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ommonlg fenoton as a JWagictan. 





VOL. I. 



[The right of Translation is reserved.'] 


THIS narrative completes a design, upon the execu- 
tion of which many hours of recreation have been occu- 
pied. It was not intended to produce an indefinite series 
of the Lives of Scholars of the Sixteenth Century, but 
it was thought possible, by help of the free speech about 
themselves, common to men of genius in that age, for the 
lives of three men to be written, in whose histories there 
might be shown, with a minuteness perhaps not unim- 
portant to the student or uninteresting to the miscella- 
neous reader, what the life of a scholar was in the time of 
the revival of learning and the reformation of the Church. 
These biographies it never was proposed to unite under a 
common title; each, it was felt, must make or miss its 
own way in the world. They are, no doubt, the issue of 
a single purpose, but they are not necessary to each other, 
and there is no reason why the possessor of one should 
possess all, or incur the penalty of owning a book marked 
as a fragment on the title-page or cover. 


It may be convenient, however, to some readers, and 
will be certainly a satisfaction to the writer, briefly to in- 
dicate what the intention was that has been carried out as 
well as power served in the writing of the trilogy of lives 
now brought to a conclusion. It was desired that of the 
three lives each should be in itself worth telling, and in 
itself an addition of some new and well-authenticated 
matter to the available stores of minute information that 
give colour and life to history. It was desired that they 
should treat not of political heroes, but of scholars, living 
in the same age of the world, although no two of the same 
country. It was desired, too, that they should be not 
only representatives of separate nations of Europe, but 
also of separate and absolutely different careers of study. 
Palissy was a Frenchman, with the vivacity, taste, and 
inventive power commonly held to be characteristic of his 
nation ; Cardan was an Italian, with Italian passions ; but 
Agrippa was a contemplative German, According even to 
the vulgar notion, therefore, they were characteristic men. 
Palissy was by birth a peasant; Cardan belonged to the 
middle class; Agrippa was the son of noble parents, born 
lo live a courtier's life. All became scholars. Palissy learnt 
of God and nature ; and however men despised his know- 
ledge, his advance was marvellous upon the unknown paths 
of truth ; he was the first man of his age as a true scholar, 
though he had heaven and earth only for his books. No 
heed was paid to the scholarship of Bernard Palissy, but 
the civilised world rang with the fame of the great Italian 
physician, who had read and written upon almost every- 


thing, Jerome Cardan. Hampered by a misleading scholar- 
ship, possessed by the superstitions of his time, bound down 
by the Church, Cardan, with a natural wit as acute as that 
of Palissy, became the glory of his day, but of no day 
succeeding it. The two men are direct opposites, as to 
their methods and results of study. In a strange place of 
his own between them stands Agrippa, who began his life 
by mastering nearly the whole circle of the sciences and 
arts as far as books described it, and who ended by de- 
claring the Uncertainty and Vanity of Arts and Sciences. 
The doctrine at which he arrived was that, in brief, fruit- 
ful must be the life of a Palissy, barren the life of a 
Cardan; since for the world's progress it is needful that 
men shake off slavery to all scholastic forms, and travel 
forward with a simple faith in God, inquiring the way 

More might be said to show, but it is enough to have 
suggested, what has been the purpose of these books. A 
time has come when it ia out of the question to suppose 
that any reasonable student, not directed by some special 
purpose, can, or ought to, trouble himself with the careful 
reading of such extinct literature as the works of Cardan 
or Agrippa. It remains, therefore, that these men, and 
others like them influential in their time, types of a most 
important age in the world's history, should as men, 
though not as names, be forgotten altogether, or remem- 
bered only by the aid of any one who will do what is 
attempted in the book now offered to the reader. 

I believe that there is here told for the first time the 


exact story of Cornelius Agrippa's life, by the right know- 
ledge of which only it is possible to understand his cha- 
racter. His works include a large pile of old Latin letters, 
written by him and to him, in every year of his life be- 
tween the twentieth and almost the last. Under these his 
pulse still beats ; from these, by help of his other works 
and a sufficient knowledge of the day when they were 
written, it is possible to gather the whole story of his 
aspiration, toil, and sorrow. I have endeavoured in this 
book not only to narrate his life, but also to give a view 
of the true purport and spirit of his writings. I hope 
there is no sentence in the narrative for which authority 
cannot be shown. I know that there is no discoverable 
incident that has been kept back or altered in significance 
to suit a theory as to the character portrayed. Before his 
death, Cornelius Agrippa was the victim of the calumnies 
of priests, because he denounced their misdoing. They 
made good use of the fact that he had in his youth written 
a volume upon Magic ; and to this day he has come down 
to us defiled by their aspersions. In subsequent literature, 
when he has been mentioned, it has been almost always 
with contempt or ridicule. He was scarcely in his grave 
when Rabelais reviled him as Herr Trippa. Butler jests 
over him in Hudibras, and uses the Church legend of his 
demon dog: 

"Agrippa kept a Stygian pug, 
I' th' garb and habit of a dog, 
That was his tutor, and the CUP 
Eead to th' occult philosopher, 
And taught him subtly to maintain 
All other sciences are vain." 


While in our own day Southey writes a ballad on another 
of the monkish tales against him. It is that about the 
youth who was torn to pieces by the fiends when con- 
juring in Agrippa's study with one of his books : 

" The letters were written with blood therein, 
And the leaves were made of dead men's skin." 

I wish to show how the man really lived, what the 
man really wrote, of whom these stories have so long 
been current. 

The woodcut portrait on the title-page to this volume 
is copied from that issued by Cornelius himself with the 
first complete edition of his Magic. The inscription 
round it appears in his collected works. The emblem 
on the title-page of the second volume is from a contem- 
porary book, the " Margarita Philosophica." 

London, October, 1856. 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS . . . \ . . $ 
















Two MONKS 209 





BEGGARY . 290 




AT COLOGNE, on the 14th of September, I486 1 , there 
was born into the noble house of Nettesheim a son, whom 
his parents called in baptism Henry Cornelius Agrippa. 
Some might, at first thought, suppose that the last of the 
three was a Christian name likely to find especial favour 
with the people of Cologne, the site of whose town, in days 
of Roman sovereignty, Marcus Agrippa's camp suggested 
and the colony of Agrippina fixed. But the existence 
of any such predilection is disproved by some volumes 
filled with the names of former natives of Cologne. 
There were as few Agrippas there as elsewhere, the use 
of the name being everywhere confined to a few indivi- 
duals taken from a class that was itself not numerous. A 
child who came into the world feet-foremost was called 

1 Ep. 26, Lib. vii. Opera (Lugduni, 1536), Tom. ii. p. 1041, where he 
says to the senators of Cologne : " Sum enim et ego civitate vestra oriundus, 
et prima pueritia apud vos enutritus." 

VOL. I. B 


an Agrippa 1 by the Romans, and I know not what ex- 
ceptions there may have been to the rule that all persons 
who received this word as a forename were Agrippas 
born. Since ancient writers upon medicine and science 
long ranked as the best teachers of the moderns, the 
same use of the word Agrippa was retained till many 
years after the date with which this chapter commences. 
The Agrippas of the sixteenth century were usually sons 
of scholars, or of persons in the upper ranks, who had 
been mindful of a classic precedent; and there can be 
little doubt that a peculiarity attendant on the very first 
incident in the life here to be told was expressed by the 
word used as appendix to an already sufficient Christian 

The son thus christened became a scholar and a subject 
of discussion among scholars, talking only Latin to the 
world. His family name, Von Nettesheim, he never 
latinised, inasmuch as the best taste suggested that if a 
Latin designation was most proper for a scholar he 

1 The word itself was invented to express the idea, being compounded 
of the trouble of the woman and the feet of the child. So Aulus Gellius 
explains it (Noct. Attic. Lib. xvi. cap. 16) : " Quorum in nascendo non 
caput, sed pedes primi exstiterant (qui partus difficillimus segerrimusque 
habetur) ; AGRIPPJE appellati, vocabulo ab egritudine et pedibus conficto." 
The following passage from a medical writer who was of authority in the year 
1700, shows that the original use of the word was not then obsolete : " Casus 
est periculosissimus, quando pedibus primb prodit infans, ita ut etiarn manus 
deorsum versus inclinent : nam sic fit, ut egresso tempore orificium uteri 
internum circa collum iterum se stringat, ita ut foetus extra uterum, caput 
autem ejus adhuc in utero haereat, et reddat partum difficilem. Tales foBtus 
dicuntur AGKIPP^E." Michaelis Ettmulleri Collegium Practicum Doctrirude, 
sect, vii. cap. i. art. 2. Op. (Frankfort-on-M. 1708), Tom. ii. pars 1, p. 


could do, or others could do for him, nothing simpler 
than to set apart for literary purposes that half of his 
real style which was already completely Roman. Henry 
Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim became therefore to 
the world what he is also called in the succeeding narrative 
Cornelius Agrippa. 

This is the only member of the family of Nettesheim 
concerning whom any records have been left for the in- 
struction of posterity. Nettesheim, or Nettersheim, itself 
is a place of little note, distant about twenty-five miles to 
the south-west of Cologne, and at about the same distance 
to the south-east of Aix-la-Chapelle that is to say, in the 
direction of the EifFelberg. It lies in a valley, through 
which flows the stream from one of the small sources of 
the Roer. The home of the Von Nettesheims, when they 
were not personally attached to the service of the emperor, 
was at Cologne, where many nobles lived on terms not 
altogether friendly with the merchants and the traders of 
the place. The ancestors of Cornelius Agrippa had been 
for generations in the service of the house of Austria ; his 
father had in this respect walked in the steps of his fore- 
fathers, and from a child Cornelius looked for nothing 
better than to do the same 1 . 

Born in Cologne did not mean then what it has meant 

1 "Et pater et avi et atavi et tritavi Csesarum Romanorum Austria- 
corumque Principum a longo sevo ministri fuerunt. Horum vestigia et ego 
insecutus, Divo Maximiliano Csesari et pace et bello non segniter inservavi." 
Ep. 18, Lib. vi. (Op. Tom. ii. p. 971). Elsewhere, after a fuller recital, he 
speaks of himself as " D. Maximiliano Csesari a prima setate destinatus." 
Ep. 21, Lib. vii. 



for many generations almost until now, born into the 
darkness of a mouldering receptacle of relics. Then the 
town was not priest-ridden, but rode its priests. For 
nearly a thousand years priestcraft and handicraft have 
battled for predominance within its walls. Priestcraft 
expelled the Jews, banished the -weavers, and gained 
thoroughly the mastery at last. But in the time of Cor- 
nelius Agrippa handicraft was uppermost, and in sacred 
Cologne every trader and mechanic did his part in keep- 
ing watch on the archbishop. Europe contained then 
few cities larger, busier, and richer, for the Rhine was a 
main highway of commerce, and Cologne great enough 
to be called the daughter of the Roman Empire was 
enriched, not only by her manufacturers and merchants, 
but, at the same time also, by a large receipt of toll. 

The temporal government of this city had been placed 
in the hands of churchmen from a very early time 1 . In 
the year 953 the rule over the town of bishops, subject 
to imperial control, began with Archbishop Bruno 2 , 
brother to Otto the First and Duke of Lorraine. To the 
imperial brother of this archbishop, Cologne was indebted 

1 A local handbook Koln undBonn mitihren Umgebungen, Koln, 1828 
compiled from the best authorities accessible to a scholar on the spot, con- 
tains a good historical sketch of the relations between Cologne and its 
archbishop, drawing for information on a public report against the inde- 
pendence of the city, addressed to the Kurfilrst, and published at Bonn in 
1687 with the title Securis ad radicem posita, oder grundlicher Bericht, loco 
libelli, worin der Stadt Colin Ursprung und Erbawung klarlkh dargestellt ist, 
&c. The document itself I have not seen. 

2 Biblioiheca Coloniensis. . . . Josephi Hartzheim, fol. Colon. 1747, 
p. 40, for his eulogy; but the little handbook just mentioned draws the 
spirit of his life from a work printed in 1494, entitled Chronica von der 
Mligen Stat van Coelkn. 


for various immunities and privileges; but the chief efforts 
of Bruno and his successors had in view the extension of 
their personal authority. They succeeded so well in the 
attainment of this object, that, after the tenth century, 
they had absolute rank as masters of the town. Their 
subjects were even at that time noted for prosperity as 
merchants ; educated among the luxuries of city life, they 
were without experience in the affairs of war, " about 
which they discoursed over their banquets and their wine 
when the day's trade was over 1 . " 

It was one ^of the archbishops, Philip von Heinsberg, 
who, towards the close of the twelfth century, enclosed 
the city and a part of the adjacent country within walls. 
Very few years before that time the citizens had made a 
weak attempt at the establishment of an independent 
representative constitution, by which their archbishop 
was to be shut out from interference in affairs that did 
not concern his spiritual office. Commerce is the most 
powerful antagonist to despotism, and in whatever place 
both are brought together one of them must die. Co- 
logne, in the middle ages, had become a great com- 
mercial port. Its weights and measures were used through- 
out Europe 2 . By the Rhine, one of the two great 
European highways, there was conveyed that main part 

1 " Colonienses ab ineunte estate inter urbanas delicias educati, nullam in 
bellicis rebus experientiam habebant, quidquid post venditas merces inter 
vinum et epulas de re militari disputari solitas." Lambert von Aschaffen- 
burg in Pistorius (Rerum Germanicarum Veteres jam primum publicati Scrip- 
tores, Frankfort, 1607). 

2 Fischer's Geschichte det teutschen Handels, vol. ii. p. 235. 


of the traffic between east and west which passed through 
Venice to the Netherlands. At Cologne all merchandise 
that passed paid toll both to the town and the right 
reverend lord of the town ; and it not only paid a direct 
toll, but had to be transhipped into vessels owned by 
the local merchants, who thus were enriched by the 
monopoly which made them masters of the Rhine. While 
prosperity was secured in this manner to its merchants, 
the manufacturers and traders of Cologne took excellent 
advantage of the opportunities for commerce offered them 
by the position of their town. They began early to form 
strong guilds, and with trade and commerce the arts 
flourished J . Except Nuremberg, there is no city in Ger- 
many able to show a series of works of art, dating from 
the earliest times to the sixteenth century, so perfect as 
that which may still be studied here. The goldsmiths 
and painters of the place had an extended reputation. 
In the " Parcival" of Wolfram von Eschenbach, written 
before 1215, the Cologne painters are referred to as 
notorious for their great skill 2 ; and the Cologne builders 
were in even more renown. It is proper, also, to mention 
in the narrative that among the scholars of Germany one, 
who before the time of Cornelius Agrippa was known as 

1 F. C. J. Fischer's Geschickte des teutschen Handels, 8vo, Hanover, 1793, 
vol. i. pp. 945-947. 

2 Praising a knight's great beauty, he says 

"Von. Cbllen noch von Mastricht 
Nicht ein Schildrer entwarf ihn bass" 

the conception of a painter from Cologne or Maestricht being assumed as 
an ideal of beauty by this poet, who was the greatest of the Minnesingers. 


the most famous of magicians, belonged to the same city; 
for there, in the thirteenth century, Albertus Magnus 
taught, and it is there that he was buried. 

Prosperous Cologne, then, did not submit humbly to 
episcopal direction. A shrewd and active archbishop, 
Conrad von Hochstetten 1 the same who, in 1248, laid 
the foundations of the cathedral secured to the town 
fresh privileges from the emperor; but was at more trouble 
to secure his own supremacy among the townspeople. 
He began the attempt to do so, like a wise churchman, 
by promoting strife between the resident nobles and the 
citizens, but soon found himself driven to the necessity of 
putting armour on, and leading troops against his stub- 
born flock. At the last he triumphed only by effecting 
an alliance with the tradesmen, and subduing with their 
aid the power of the nobles. Conrad died master of the 
town ; but his nephew and successor, Engelbert, who 
vigorously carried on his policy, was involved soon in 
another outbreak of the civil war, for three of the leading 
nobles had been kept in prison, and their companions in 
arms engaged in a new struggle to wipe out their dis- 
grace. Finally they got possession, not of the town only, 
but also of the person of the archbishop, whom they im- 
prisoned for three years in the castle of Nydeck, and occa- 
sionally hung out in an iron cage for public mockery 2 . 

Peace was soon afterwards established in the town, but 
not on a sure basis. The increased influence of the trades 

1 Fischer's Geschichte des teutschen Handels, vol. ii. p. 235. 

2 Pistorius, Rer. Germ. Vet. Script. (Frankf. 1607), pp. 260, 261. 


caused the establishment of a new system of corporate go- 
vernment in the year 1321; but the representatives were 
chosen from the noble families. Not quite thirty years 
later there was a devilish persecution of the Jews in many 
parts of Europe; and the Jews of Cologne, alarmed by 
the sufferings to which others of their race had been ex- 
posed, withdrew into their houses, with their wives and 
children, and burnt themselves in the midst of their pos- 
sessions. The few who had flinched from this self-immo- 
lation were banished, and their houses and lands, together 
with all the land that had belonged to Cologne Jews, 
remained as spoils in the hands of the Cologne Christians. 
All having been converted into cash, the gains of "the 
transaction were divided equally between the town and 
the archbishop. Twenty years later, Jews were again 
suffered to reside in the place, on payment of a tax for the 
protection granted them. 

In 1369 the city was again in turmoil, caused by a dis- 
pute concerning privileges between the church authorities 
and the town council. The weavers took occasion to ex- 
press their views very strongly as the maintainers of a 
democratic party, and there was once more fighting in 
the streets. The weavers were subdued; they fled to the 
churches, and were slain at the altars. Eighteen hundred 
of them, all who survived, were banished, suffering, of 
course, confiscation of their property, and Cologne being 
cleared of all its weavers who had carried on no incon- 
siderable branch of local manufacture their guild was 


demolished *. This event occurred twenty years after the 
town had lost, in the Jews, another important part of its 
industrial population, and the proud city thus was passing 
into the first stage of its decay. 

In 1388 an university was established at Cologne, 
upon the model of the University of Paris. Theology 
and scholastic philosophy were the chief studies cultivated 
in it, and they were taught in such a way as to win many 
scholars from abroad 2 . Eight years afterwards, church- 
men, nobles, and' traders were again contesting their re- 
spective claims, and blood was again shed in the streets. 
The nobles, assembled by night at a secret meeting, were 
surprised, and the final conquest of the trading class was 
in that way assured. Again, therefore, a new constitu- 
tion was devised; and this was the constitution that con- 
tinued still to be in force during the lifetime of Cornelius 
Agrippa. At the head of the temporal government were 
six burgomasters, acting in pairs, who formed three 
double mayors, ruling in rotation, and retiring upon the 
presidency of the exchequer at the conclusion of their 
term of office. The citizens were classed into two-and- 
twenty liveries, electing thirty-six councilmen, who added 
to their body thirteen aldermen to preside over the several 
judicial courts the petty criminal court, court of appeal, 
&c. Each livery placed also at its head a deputy the 
banner-master and the banner-masters acted for the 

1 Gesckichte des Ursprungs der Stdnde in Deutschland. Von Karl Die- 
trich UUman. Frankf. an der Oder, 1806-8. B. 3, pp. 140-149. 
- See Hartzheim. 


citizens as their immediate representatives in all impor- 
tant deliberations 1 . I have expressed the idea of this 
constitution by the use of such English terms as are most 
nearly indicative of the various offices appointed ; and the 
facility with which this can be done shows that Cologne 
achieved for itself a municipal government of a tolerably 
perfect kind. Jurisdiction in the high criminal court, 
and the power over capital conviction, remained with the 
archbishop, whose court was to be composed wholly of 
nobles born within the city. Having achieved so much, 
the townspeople proceeded by their representatives to the 
formation of a body of statutes and the complete defining of 
their own judicial system; and accordingly, in 1437, town 
and archbishop having mutually consented to the scheme 
perfected in this way, it was confirmed to them as an 
addition to their privileges by the Emperor Frederic. By 
this arrangement the archbishop owned himself mastered, 
for he consented to hold two pakces in Cologne, with the 
condition that, when he entered the town, he was to 
bring with him only a small suite, and that he was to 
remain within the city walls not longer than for three 
days at a time. Cologne was confirmed in its indepen- 
dence of all external authority, except that of the emperor, 
and the inhabitants agreed to swear fidelity to their arch- 
bishop on condition of his swearing fidelity to them. The 
decay of the place was thus arrested, and for a hundred 

1 This account, and much else, I take from the little handbook'^ofe und 
Bonn, the author of which here founds his narrative on the contemporary 
chronicle of Gottfried Hagene, published in Brewer's Vaterldndischer Chronik 
for 1825. 


years, under archbishops of the house of Meurs, this 
adjustment of the old dispute remained in force. Such 
was the position of affairs in Cologne during the lifetime 
of Cornelius Agrippa. I am convinced that the spirit 
either of a place or person is expressed less truly by 
elaborate description than even by the very simplest 
biographic sketch. It is for this reason that I have told 
in as few words as possible the previous life of a town 
which is to be the central point of interest, so far as con- 
cerns places, in the present narrative. 

In size and general appearance, Cologne at the begin- 
ning of the sixteenth century differed not much from the 
Cologne of our own day. The place had reached the 
highest point of its prosperity during the lifetime of 
Cornelius Agrippa. The great changes wrought by the 
discovery of the New World and of a sea-road to India, 
by the revolution in the art of war, and by the revival of 
letters, soon made the daughter of the Empire almost 
obsolete as a commercial port, a fortress, or a seat of learn- 
ing. The destruction of her commerce had already been 
hastened by an increased greediness for taxes levied upon 
merchandise. Then, as the trade of the town declined, 
the spirit that had beaten down the worldly despotism of 
the Church departed with it, and the archbishops trampled 
out in their own way what little life was left. There are 
signs now of a revival, but ten years since the city lay dead 
on the Rhine, retaining perfectly the shape of the great 
mart through which the traffic of half Europe passed three 
centuries ago. Nearly as large as it now is it was then. 


Now, it is of no mean size in comparison with the great 
seats of commerce which have grown while it has moul- 
dered. Then, when a scanty population yielded ham- 
lets inhabited by dozens, provincial towns by hundreds, 
capitals by but a few thousands, Cologne, issuing her 
own coinage, and a foremost member of the Hanseatic 
League, was indeed not unworthy to be flattered by suc- 
cessive sovereigns of Germany, and favoured as the 
daughter of their empire. 

In this city Cornelius Agrippa was born, as it has been 
said, of a family belonging to the noble class. His parents 
at his birth were probably not very far advanced in life, 
at any rate they continued to reside in Cologne, and to 
maintain a home which he occasionally visited for some 
time after he had himself reached years of discretion 1 . 
The Von Nettesheims, as nobles of Cologne, were likely 
in those days to be on more cordial terms with the arch- 
bishop than with the burghers, and they were engaged 
directly in the service of the emperor. In both respects 
the life of Cornelius was influenced by his position, and it 
may not be considered fanciful to suppose that the cha- 
racter of the town, as it has been here briefly suggested, 
acted in more than a slight degree upon his own character 
in childhood and after life. In his first years, and to the 
very last, he had a rare aptitude for study, and was dis- 
tinguished for his power of retaining knowledge once 
acquired. Cologne being an university town, he had but 

1 " Sed quoties reversus sum in vestram urbem, meam autem patriam 
. . . . -rix inveni . . . . qui me diceret Ave." Ep. 26, Lib. vii. p. 1041. 


to acquire the studies of the place, and these may have 
sufficed in determining his bias for scholastic theology. He 
was born soon after the discovery of printing, and the use 
made in Cologne of that discovery shows well enough 
what was the humour of the students there. The first 
Cologne printer was Ulrich Zell, who began his labours 
in or about the year 1463. Between that year and the 
year 1500, the annals of typography 1 contain the titles 
of as many as five hundred and thirty books, issued by 
him and by other printers in the town, but among these 
there are to be found only fourteen Latin classics, and 
there is not one volume of Greek. The other works con- 
sisted wholly of the writings of ascetics, scholastics, canon- 
ists, &c., including the works of Thomas Aquinas, and of 
Albertus Magnus. Of this sort were the springs at which 
as a boy Cornelius Agrippa was compelled to slake his 
thirst for knowledge. Among writers of this description 
it was only natural that he should find the eager fancy of 
youth satisfied best with the wonderful things written by 
the magicians, and accordingly he states that at a very 
early age he was possessed with a curiosity concerning 
mysteries 2 . 

But there were successful studies of another kind for 
which also Cornelius was remarkable in youth. He 

1 Annales Typographic^ ab artis inventce origine ad annum MJ)., post 
MaiUairii Denisii aliorumque .... euros. Opera Georgii Wolfg. Sanzer 
(Norimb. 1793), Tom. i. pp. 274-348. 

- "... Qui ab ineunte aetate semper circa mirabilium effectuum et plenas 
mysteriorum operationes curiosus intrepidusque extiti explorator." Ep. 23, 
Lib. L Op. Tom. ii. p. 703. 


became versed in many European languages, and it is 
most probable, that while the position of Cologne as a 
halting-place on one of the great highways of European 
traffic must have caused the gift of tongues to be appre- 
ciated by its merchants, the unusual opportunities there 
offered for its acquisition surely would not be neglected 
in a family like that of Nettesheim, which sought to rise 
by the performance of good service to an emperor whose 
daily business, now war and now diplomacy, was being 
carried on in many lands. 

After some years of home-training, subject to the in- 
fluences here discussed, the age arrived at which youths 
destined to serve princes were considered fit to be pro- 
duced at court. Cornelius Agrippa was then taken from 
beneath the friendly shade of the Archbishop of Cologne, 
to bask in light as an attendant on the Emperor of 




CORNELIUS AGRIPPA served the Emperor of Germany 
at first as a secretary, afterwards for seven years as a 
soldier 1 . The distinct statement of this fact, and the 
impossibility of otherwise accounting for the time, compels 
us to interpret strictly the accompanying assertion that he 
entered, while still very young, into the imperial service. 
If it were not so, we might suppose that at the age of 
nineteen he was perfecting his studies at the University of 
Paris, and that the wild scheming, presently to be de- 
scribed, naturally arose there out of the enthusiasm of 
youth in the hot blood of a few students. It would 
in that case have to be said that after leaving Paris 
he first entered the service of a court, by which his 
designs were countenanced as leading to a chivalrous 
adventure, from which some political advantage might, 
perchance, arise, and no great harm could follow. 

The master of the young diplomatist was Maximilian the 

1 " Maximiliano a prima aetate destinatus aliquandiu illi a minoribus 
secretis fui, deinde in Italicis castria septennio Uliua stipendio militayi." 
Ep. 21, Lib. viL Op. Tom. ii. p. 1021. 


First, a prince at whose court chivalry was much in favour, 
and from whom bold enterprises had at all times ready 
praise. As emperor it had not seemed to him beneath 
his dignity to fight a duel 1 in the presence of his lords, 
and to give evidence therein of prowess that was said 
by his courtiers to be stupendous. A daring man at 
arms undoubtedly he was, but he was more than that. 
There were fine qualities in Maximilian that must have 
given him strong hold upon the minds of the young men 
under his influence. Late in development, he was nine 
years of age before he could speak clearly, and when he 
was twelve his father thought it possible that he would die 
a fool. When, however, the time came for his mind to 
ripen, it had a distinct flavour of its own. He had been 
ill taught in his youth by Peter, Bishop of Neustadt, a 
pedant, who worried him with dialectics; and, forasmuch 
as he did not take to them with a good grace, beat him 
sorely. " Ah," said Maximilian, at dinner, one day, after 
he had been crowned King of Rome (this happened in 
the birth-year of Cornelius Agrippa), " if Bishop Peter 
were alive to-day, though we owe much to good teachers, 
he should have cause to repent that he had ever been my 
master." But in spite of all bad teaching, Maximilian 
contrived to educate himself into the power of conversing 
fluently and accurately in Italian, French, and Latin, as 
well as in his native German ; and while he readily con- 
fessed himself to have been ill brought up, he valued 

1 The duel was with Claude de Batre, and the prowess, says Cuspinian, 
"conspectu stupendum." 


learning, and was liberal to men of letters. He caused 
search to be made for genealogies and local annals ; he 
took pleasure in entertaining questions of philosophy and 
science, even himself conducting some experiments. The 
master of the young Agrippa was also, according to the 
humour of his time, a sharp arguer upon nice questions 
in theology. In his latter years he was glad often to 
discuss privately with learned men, and acquire know- 
ledge from them. , It may even be said that he was, him- 
self, a member of the literary body. He professed to 
despise poetry, yet it was he who wrote in verse the 
allegorical, " Dewrdank," wherein he represented himself 
as having overcome envy and curiosity. He wrote also 
" The Gate of Honour," to induce all learned men in 
Germany to preserve ancient chronicles from loss. He 
founded on his own story the narrative of " The White 
King," illustrated with honourable reference to, and pic- 
tures of, almost every trade followed by his subjects ; 
and finally, some of the finest woodcuts ever executed 
were designed from his dictation, to represent his ideal of 
a triumph 1 , which should sweep before the eyes of all 
posterity upon a pictured page, and celebrate the glories 
of his reign. " His bent," says his secretary, Cuspinian, 
" was to scholarship, but, having been ill taught, he chose 
war for his profession 2 ." 

It is absolutely certain that the young son of the house 

1 Kaiser Maximilian's Triumph. 

2 The sketch of Maximilian in this chapter is chiefly founded upon details 
given in Joanni Cuspiniani . . . . de Ccesaribus atque] Imperatoribut lio- 
manis (Basle, 1561), pp. 602-615. 

VOL. I. C 


of Nettesheim, who being a scholar by taste began service 
to his imperial master as a secretary, who was curious 
about the mysteries of nature, relished keenly all the nice 
points of theology, was versed in languages, and as am- 
bitious as the emperor himself, was not a youth whom 
Maximilian would overlook. Already disposed to smile 
upon a new retainer who was noticeable among courtiers 
for the extent of his attainments and his assiduity in 
study, the emperor would quickly have discovered that the 
young Cornelius Agrippa had a spirit not bound wholly 
to books, but that he could enter heartily into his master's 
relish for bold feats of arms. 

There are men to whom it is natural from childhood 
upwards to assume the tone of a leader, and in whom the 
excess of self-reliance represents the grain of an otherwise 
amiable character. It is so subtly combined with every- 
thing they say or do as to appear but rarely in the 
offensive form of violent or obvious self-assertion ; it is not 
displayed by them, but it is felt by others in whom the 
same element of character is more weakly developed. 
They are not by any means necessarily great or able men 
who go through the world as centres of their great or 
little circles with this spirit in them, but it must be a 
very great man indeed who can keep any one of them 
within the circumference of a circle whereof he is not the 
centre. Cornelius Agrippa had a disposition of this kind, 
and as a youth, it might be said, there was some reason 
for his self-reliance, since, if not by his rare abilities, yet 
by his advantageous position near the emperor, and his 


activity of character, there seemed to be assured to him an 
enviable future. And yet clouds gather about the face 
of many a day that gives the 'brightest promise in its 

In Cornelius Agrippa the emperor his master appears 
to have seen nothing but promise. The quick perceptions 
of the learned youth, his acquaintance with foreign lan- 
guages, his daring and his self-reliance, were no doubt the 
qualities by which he was commended most to Maximilian's 
attention, and there was no time lost in making use of 
them. Cornelius, even at the age of twenty, was em- 
ployed on secret service by the German court, and the 
very enthusiasm of his character, and of his period of life, 
seems to have been reckoned upon as the edge proper to 
such a tool as the state made of him. 

The relation in which the young Von Nettesheim stood 
to the emperor, and the character of the influence that 
may have been exerted on him in the court of Austria, 
will be sufficiently indicated by adding to what has been 
already said the little sketch of Maximilian's character 
and habits left by Cuspinian, his confidential secretary. 
Though not a perfect picture of the emperor, it shows 
him, as we now desire to see him, from a secretary's point 
of view. 

It is well known that Maximilian was a prince in diffi- 
culties very often, that the imperial exchequer was more 
apt to weigh as a load upon his mind than upon his 
pocket, yet, says Cuspinian, he never allowed to be 
touched the gold, silver, and hereditary jewels left him by 


his ancestors, for they were the inheritance due to his 
heirs. Ferdinand, after his father's death, was amazed 
when he saw what was in the treasury. Maximilian was 
a square-built man, with good health, capable of enduring 
heavy labour; he wrote sometimes far into the night, 
broke a lance often in jest with his princes, or in earnest 
with his foes. He was frugal in his repasts, "and so 
clean" (for emperors then ate meat with their fingers) 
" that nobody could see him dining or supping without 
pleasure." He drank little between meals, and at table 
drank only three times. He was of good morals, but loved 
to dine or dance in company with honest ladies, not be- 
having to them as proud princes do, but accosting them 
with modest reverence. He had a singular love of music, 
" and," says his indignant secretary, " musical professors, 
instruments, &c., sprang up at his court like mushrooms 
after a shower. I would write a list of the musicians I 
have known if I were not afraid of the size of the work. 
He revived the art of war, introduced new machines, and 
was the only general of his time. Some say that he was 
too fond of hunting, by which he was taken into great 
danger while following the wild goat up the highest rocks. 
He spent largely on dogs, hunters, and huntsmen ; but 
that," Cuspinian adds, " is royal sport. Kings cannot walk 
in squares and streets (as common people do, who sharpen 
for themselves their hunger by that exercise), but must 
follow the chase of wild beasts to improve their bodies. 
This emperor was affable in his manners, he set at their 
ease those people who conversed with him, and as he had 


a good memory, pleased them by showing knowledge of 
their names and their affairs. He did not mind asking 
mean persons for their opinion on mighty things." He 
was likely, therefore, to flatter greatly, by his show of con- 
fidence and frankness, a young scribe whose temper and 
abilities he meant to turn to some account. Once, when 
there was a conspiracy against him in his camp, he went 
into the tent of the chief conspirator, and sat down cheer- 
fully to dinner with his wife. Many enemies he subdued 
by kindly speech, and sometimes (hints the secretary) paid 
his soldiers' wages with it. He turned no ear at all to 
slander, and bade Cuspinian cease from addressing him 
with words of flattery, reminding him of the proverb, 
" Self-praise makes a stinking mouth." 

Such a man as this was master to Cornelius Agrippa ; 
surely an Austrian diplomatist as well as a brave soldier 
and not unenlightened prince. Even his secretary and 
admirer, when he tells of the match-making feats by 
which Maximilian laboured to extend the influence of his 
own family, talks half-con tern ptuously of " the marrying 
house of Austria." With all his chivalry and all his 
mother's southern blood (she was a Portuguese), Maxi- 
milian was an Austrian born, son of an Austrian father. 
The diplomatic service of the Austrian court, at every 
period of history, has been what it is now and ever will 
be, slippery and mean. It may spend the energies of a 
fine mind upon base labour ; delude, when necessary, its 
own agents into the belief that they do brave deeds and 
speak true words, though they are working out designs 


contrived upon no honourable principle. In this way 
some use may have been made of the fresh spirit of the 
youth, whom we are now to find, at the age of twenty, 
with the cares of a conspirator upon him. 

It is not at all possible that this conspiracy, of which 
the precise nature can only be inferred from overt acts, 
distinctly originated at the court of Maximilian, although 
it was fostered there. It related to the affairs of Spain, 
:and the political events of the time appear to throw some 
doubtful light upon its meaning. Ferdinand of Spain, 
the widower of Isabella, was excluded from the crown of 
Castile after his wife's death, that inheritance having 
passed with his daughter Joanna as a dower to her hus- 
band Philip, one of the marrying house of Austria, the 
son of Maximilian. Ferdinand had made a vain effort to 
retain some hold upon his authority over the Castilians ; 
but he was repelled by them, and referred to his own 
kingdoms of Aragon and Naples. Suddenly, in Sep- 
tember, 1506, news of the death of Philip startled 
European politicians. He was a young man of eight- 
and-twenty, upon whose death no person had yet begun 
to speculate ; over-exertion in a game of ball, at an enter- 
tainment given by his favourite Don Manuel, led, it is' 
said, to this unexpected issue. A wide field was at once 
opened for Austrian diplomacy. Those nobles of Castile 
who had most actively opposed the claims of Ferdinand 
against his son-in-law, partly in self-defence, maintained 
their opposition. Ferdinand, when the event happened, 
was not in Spain ; he was engaged upon a journey to his 


Neapolitan dominions. The country, therefore, fell into 
confusion, for the widowed queen Joanna, overwhelmed 
with an insane grief, refused to perform any act of govern- 
ment ; and Maximilian of Austria had lost no time in 
urging strongly upon Ferdinand his own right to be 
regent of Castile. From the distracted country several 
Spanish nobles came to Maximilian's court, Manuel him- 
self among the rest, where they continually urged upon 
the Austrian more measures against Ferdinand than he 
considered it worth while to take. 

It appears to have been during this period of excite- 
ment and political uncertainty that Cornelius von Nettes- 
heirn, then twenty years of age, was sent to Paris, perhaps 
in company with a superior diplomatist, but probably 
alone. His unusual power as a linguist 1 his learning, 
which was of an extent far beyond his years the quick- 
ness of his parts, which in some sense was as valuable as 
an older man's experience marked him out subsequently, 
while he was still very young, as a fit agent to be sent 
abroad on confidential missions 3 . France had been hostile 
to the son of Maximilian, and war against France had 
been declared by Philip only a short time before his 
death. The business of Cornelius at Paris was, I think, 

1 "II savait parler huit sortes de langues, &c. &c. &c., d'oii je ne 
m'ctonne que Paule Jove 1'appelle Portentosum Ingenium, que Jacques 
Gohory le met inter clarissima sui sseculi lumina, que Ludwigius le nomme 
Venerandum Dom. Agrippam, literarum, literatorumque omnium mira- 
culum." Apoloyie pour tons les Grands Personnages qui ont este faussement 
soupq&nnez de Magie. Par G. Naudc, Paris. La Haye, 1653, pp. 406, 

2 Defensio Propositionum de Beat. Anna Monoyamia. Op. Tom. il 
p. 596. 


simply in accordance with his duty as a clever scribe, to 
take trustworthy note of what he saw and heard. A 
political crisis had occurred, affecting intimately the in- 
terests of Maximilian, and the relations of the emperor 
with France were thereby placed in a most difficult 
position. While doing whatever else was needful, Maxi- 
milian may, very likely, have considered it worth while 
to send to the French capital one of the young men 
belonging to his court, who could for a short time take 
a quiet post of observation as a scholar in the University, 
and make himself the master of more knowledge than 
would be communicated to him in the schools. Foremost 
among young pundits was Cornelius von Nettesheim, a 
person apt in every respect for such a purpose. He might 
go to his own home in Cologne, and proceed thence, as a 
studious youth, to Paris. After a short residence there, 
it was, indeed, in the first instance, to his father's house 
that he returned l . 

Cornelius was engaged on secret service more than 
once ; but all his great or little diplomatic secrets were 
well kept, though on his own affairs he was, in his pub- 

1 Ep. 2, Lib. i. p. 682. The letters of Agrippa are in the second volume 
of the Lyons edition of his works, already referred to, and published in his 
lifetime "per Beringos Fratres," in and about the year 1532. It was 
printed and reprinted by them, probably often, certainly once. My own 
copy is undated, and shows, by comparison with that in the British Museum, 
that although precisely alike both as to general appearance and as to 
paging, and issued about the same time by the same printer, the whole of 
the type must have been distributed and set up afresh in the interval 
between the issue of one book and of the other. The second volume of this 
issue is the book of which the page is given in all notes referring to 
Agrippa' s letters. 


lished works, abundantly communicative. It is left for 
us, then, 'to construct what theory we can upon his 
business at this period in Paris. We know only that he 
was there at the time described, and that he made himself 
while there the centre of a knot of students, members 
with him, as it will afterwards be seen, of a secret asso- 
ciation of theosophists, and bent upon a wild and daring 
enterprise that was in several respects very characteristic 
both of the age of the schemers, and of the age of the 
world in which they lived to scheme. 

The disturbances in Castile had extended to Aragon 
and Catalonia. The Catalonians, since their annexation 
to the crown of Aragon, had frequently caused trouble 
by their independent spirit, had established one successful 
revolt, and were at this period violently excited in many 
places against the oppression of the nobles. From the 
district of Tarragon they had chased at least one of their 
local masters, the Sefior de Gerona ; and this gentleman, 
while holding from King Ferdinand the authority which 
he appears to have abused, must have had something of 
the traitor in his composition, for we find him among 
other Spaniards at the court of Maximilian, by whom 
the interests of Ferdinand were at this time especially 

At Paris, Cornelius met with the young Spaniard, who, 
perhaps, was then upon his way to Germany ; and by the 
conversation of Juanetin de Gerona 2 , the bold spirit of 

1 Ep. 4, Lib. i. p. 683. 

1 lanotus Bascus de Charona ia the Latin form. 


enterprise was stirred within him. In concert with some 
other students he devised a plan, not merely for the re- 
storation of Juanetin to his own domain itself a student's 
freak of tolerable magnitude, but for the achievement, 
by a stroke of wit, of some more serious adventure, which 
seems to have included the mastering of Tarragon 1 itself, 
and the maintenance of that stronghold against the people 
of the district. Upon the information of the Senor de 
Gerona, Cornelius Agrippa based his plans ; the Spaniard 
had doubtless contributed to the plot suggestions of ad- 
vantage that might be secured to Maximilian by the 
enterprise. In the emperor's discussion with King Fer- 
dinand he was to be helped in some wild way by the 
young soldier-scribe against the Catalonians. It is certain 
that Cornelius Agrippa had in view nothing more than 
the advantage of his master, except the renown that was 
to follow from the magnitude of his success, if he suc- 
ceeded 3 . While the idea was fresh with him he must 
have made its purport known to a friend at court, whom 
he calls Galbianus, who most strongly urged him to pursue 
it, and partook of his enthusiasm 3 . 

After a few months, early in 1507, Cornelius went from 
Paris to his own home at Cologne, his absence from the 
University being considered only temporary 4 . The chief 
friend whom he left behind, as faithful lieutenant, to com- 

1 The Latin form used by Agrippa is Arcona. 

2 " Neque diffido .... me clarissimo hoc facinore immortalem gloriam 
nobis paraturum." Ep. 4, Lib. i. p. 683. 

3 " Qui in hunc labyrinthum mihi dux fuisti" Loc. cit. 

4 Ep. 1 and 2, Lib. L 


plete the necessary preparations, was an Italian, r who 
studied medicine in Paris, Blasius Cassar Landulphus. 
He lived to be a professor in the University of Pavia 1 , 
and wrote upon " The Cures of Fevers," with some other 
matter, a book published at Venice in 1521, and re- 
published at Basle in 1535, with again other matter added 
to it. 

We find him with a fever of his own still to be cured, 
a man ripe for excitement, who has hitherto, as he says, 
been leading an unsettled life, writing from Paris, on 
the 26th of March, to his accepted chieftain at Cologne, 
that he can send no pleasanter tidings than news of the 
success of their business, so often desired. He writes in a 
tone of strong affection for Cornelius ; and hints at a wish 
also, now and then expressed between them, that after 
all the accidents of fortune he had suffered, Providence 
might find him business near his friend in Germany: 
" For you know that I plant a foot not altogether fearless 
on the soil of Paris, though I have repelled with a divine 
shield the various bites and blows of serpents, and the 
greedy wolves who were armed against me seem only to 
have heaped coals on their own heads. Take these 
matters in brief: I would have written more at large, 
my sweetest Agrippa, of what is in my mind, and of the 
course of my life and business in hand, but those things, 
on account of the danger of our present letters and con- 
sidering the time, I put aside. Do you hasten your 
return as much as you can 2 ." 

1 Jocher's Gelehrten Lexicon. Theil 2, p.. 2242 (ed. Leipzig, 1750). 

2 Ep. 1, Lib. i. p. 681. 


The tone of this letter shows how strong an ascendancy 
Cornelius Agrippa had established over its writer; it was 
the ascendancy undoubtedly of friend over friend, but the 
young diplomatist seems also to have strengthened his 
position with suggestions of a means of settlement in life 
that might perhaps be discovered for Landulph in Ger- 
many. A month after the receipt of his friend's letter, 
addressed to him at Cologne, Cornelius thus answered it 1 : 

" Your letter written on the twenty-sixth of March, 
my most faithful Landulph, I received joyfully on the 
twentieth of May. It grieves me much to have been so 
long absent from you, and to miss the enjoyment of your 
most faithful companionship; but I do not in absence 
follow you with the less care, or yield to any one in love 
for you: so that I am capable of neglecting nothing that 
concerns the defending and amplifying of your honour, 
or the augmentation of your worldly welfare. Day and 
night solicitous on your account, I now again vehemently 
and faithfully warn you to leave your present place of 
residence, and to leave straightway; for the time is near 
when you will either be glad that you left or sorry that 
you stayed. Take these matters in brief: for I cannot 
safely venture to commit to this letter all that I should 
wish you to know. I am glad, however, that you have 
lately overcome the wiles of so many serpents, so many 
Lycaons. Yet it is safer to fly from such animals than 
vanquish them, for even when dead they are hurtful, and 
retain the poison with which often they undo their victors. 
1 Ep. 2, Lib. L p. 682. 


My happy position in life is matter of mutual satisfaction 
to us, for whatever good fortune may have befallen me is 
common to you also, since our friendship is of a kind that 
suffers nothing to be proper to one of us only. I await 
here the commission and command of a certain great Jove, 
with whom I shall some day have it in my power to be 
not a little useful to you. I am living here, and am to 
return again to France, where I shall see you. Meantime 
salute in my name Messieurs Germain, Gaigny, and 
Charles Foucard, M. de Molinflor, and Juanetin Bascara, 
Senor de Gerona. The happiest farewell to you. From 
Cologne, the twentieth of May, 1507." 

Of the friends here saluted, Germain 1 was a spirited law 
student, who became afterwards an advocate at Forcal- 
quier, in Provence. He published, nine-and-twenty years 
after this date, the " Very brief History of Charles V., 
ejected and paid out by the peasants of Provence," and 
wrote also a macaronic satire. Gaigny 3 , or Gagnee, was a 
Parisian born, afterwards known as a good theologian and 
linguist, as well as a tolerable Latin poet. Nineteen years 
subsequent to this date he became procurator for France in 
his native University, five years later its rector, and fifteen 
years later still thirty-nine years after the present date 
its chancellor, which office he held till he died three 
years after his election. He also, it seems, had indulged 
in wild schemes in his youth, though he lived to be known 
chiefly as a scholiast on the New Testament, and was made 

1 Jocher's Gekhrten Lexicon in Adelung's Fortsetzung (Leipzig, 1787). 
Theil 2. 

2 Jocher. Theil 2, p. 826. 


first almoner to the king Francis I. The last person 
named in the list, Juanetin Bascara de Gerona, was the 
young Catalonian nobleman of whom we have already 
spoken. Landulph speaks again 1 : 

"The letter that you wrote me on the twentieth of 
May, Henry Cornelius, ever to be most regarded by me, 
I received right joyfully, and read on the sixteenth of 
June : for which I can scarcely thank you enough, espe- 
cially for that part wherein you faithfully and vehemently 
exhort me that I shall be glad to have left my first resi- 
dence, or led to penitence for still abiding there. Certainly, 
with a warning of that kind, I hold you to have pro- 
phesied by some divine oracle according to the aim of 
my own intention, which during a long course of days I 
have been whispering to myself quietly. I will expect 
your return, upon which we will, as it was formerly 
resolved between us, visit Spain, and finally seek my 
native Italy. For should the eagle chance to fly across 
the Alps, I hope that we may count for something there 
among the other birds. M. Molinflor salutes you. Juanetin 
has been absent for some months, and is not yet returned. 
Farewell. From the University of Paris. In the year 1507, 
on the day above mentioned." 

Landulph, therefore, who had nothing to wait for but 
the coming of Agrippa, answered his friend's letter in- 
stantly. The absence of Juanetin referred, no doubt, to 
the business in hand. We hear of him next at the 
court of Maximilian. 

1 Ep. 3, Lib. i. p. 82. 


Nine months have elapsed ; perhaps Cornelius has half- 
repented of his plan, some of the motives to it may be 
failing, when suddenly we find his credit with his court 
staked on success. The matter has been talked about, 
and he is forced on the adventure. On the road to it 
he writes thus to a comrade still at court 1 : 

" You see, my Galbianus, how dangerous it is to make 
any rash boasts before those youths of the palace, who 
blab whatever they hear to their princes and kings, and 
hunt up for them pleasure in our perils. But they, 
as soon as they have begun to believe anything of our 
mysteries, desire us speedily to bring them to the proof by 
deeds; and they make their demand upon us with entreaties 
that blend hard and soft together, so that we may easily 
understand how those services which are not obtained from 
us by high words will be compelled by force and violence. 
I own that thus far this our fortune is superne rnulier 
formosa; but who can discern her tail ? We quaff honey 
so mixed with gall that we are unable to judge whether it 
be sweet or bitter. I own that thus far promises are 
great, and there are great rewards proposed : but against 
these are to be set threats and dangers. Have I not 
warned you from the beginning not to lead us into any 
labyrinth from which we could not escape at our own 
pleasure ? You, nevertheless, wish to talk big, an orator 
more bold than prudent ; and the Senor de Gerona, by 
his credit, has so enforced faith in your words, and sug- 
gested to the king so great an opinion of us, that there is no 

1 Ep. 4, Lib. i. p. 683. 


way left of drawing back from what we have begun. Now, 
therefore, I am forced at my own great peril to redeem 
your promises on my behalf, hard bound by so inevitable a 
necessity of danger, that if I were to draw aside, or if the 
event should happen otherwise than you have convinced 
yourself it will, we all shall have lost for ever not our 
object only, but our fame also and credit ; we shall have 
enemies instead of helpers, accusers instead of promoters, 
anger instead of thanks, and be enriched with persecution 
for our payment. 

" But if, indeed, we obey, and the matter chance to 
issue well, it is doubtful whether in place of reward we 
may not be destined to new perils ; of which perils, rising 
to the level of our skill, we may at last perish. Thus it 
may happen that the blow prepared for the head of 
another may fall on ourselves, unless, indeed, others are 
destitute of contrivances equal to ours, or better, or at 
least not by us to be foreseen. 

" But this I write to you, not because I seek to turn 
back, but that I may signify to you that I am ready 
boldly to take chance of life or death. Nor do I doubt 
that, unless fate or some evil genius stand in the way, 
I shall prepare for us immortal glory by this brilliant 
action, needing no other forces than you only, of whom 
I have often heretofore experienced that you are a faithful 
comrade. In this trust I now approach the risk and 
venture, holding already in my grasp that golden branch 
of the tree difficult to climb. If you are by my side, it 
readily will suffer itself to be plucked, otherwise I could 


not prevail or wrench it off, even with hard steel : but I 
should cast myself as a bone to Cerberus, by whom, 
nevertheless, I would rather be devoured, than like Pro- 
metheus be eaten piecemeal in a struggle with incessant 
dangers. You, therefore, who counselled me to enter on 
so great an enterprise, who were my leader into this maze, 
will see that you take as much pains in leading me out, 
and restoring me to myself, as you spent in urging me 
thereinto. Farewell, and, returning with the bearer of 
this, let us have your presence here, so that straightway 
we may deliberate and put our plan in execution. From 
the Palace of Granges, April, 1508." 

The palace and lands of Granges, or Gran gey, on the 
borders of Franche Comte, belonged then to a quasi-inde- 
pendent lord. They are distant about eight miles from 
Chatillon-sur-Seine, but a geographical fact far more 
important to this narrative is, that they are a third of 
the way in a perfectly direct line from Cologne to Tar- 

VOL. I. 




To Galbianus, who had returned to court after visiting 
Granges, in obedience to the summons of his friend, there 
came Agrippa's servant, Stephen, bringing verbal tidings 
and a letter from his master, dated at a place still nearer 
to the point of action 1 . In it Galbianus is reminded 
again that chiefly to him and Juanetin the writer is in- 
debted for the service upon which he is engaged. " Did I 
not foretel you long since," he adds, " that so it would be, 
that when we thought to depart free we should prove 
to have sold our liberty for misty names of rank, that 
under the pretext of honours and employments we should 
be appointed to the worst of perils, and that new work 
would be set before us whereof death is the hire. Let it 
content us to have enjoyed this kind of lot once ; why 
should we tempt fortune more? Juanetin, so far as I see, 

1 Ep. 5, Lib. i. p. 684. I do not name the place in the text, because I 
cannot identify it. The letter dated only with the year is written from 
Arx Vetus. The nomenclature is so barbarous in many of these letters that 
I almost fear Arx Vetus may have been Agrippa's Latin for Clennont in 
Auvergne ! 


would rather please the king with our dangers than abate 
in any of his desires out of regard for our well-being. By 
Jove, I fear the omen of that Acherontine name" (he 
Latinised his friend Charona) ; " our Charon may some 
day be tumbling us into the Styx. Do you there- 
fore straightway put your mind into his counsels, and 
whilst your hand is near, however the boat may turn, 
compel it to the right shore, before our Charon can 
run it to the left.- See therefore how you may deaden 
by some means the strokes of Juanetin, or shorten them, 
or be ready with a stout pull of your own at the right 
season : otherwise, while we must obey the decision of one 
angry king, we may offend an entire people, and even 
have those young men of the court in no benignant mood to- 
wards us. Do you not remember, my Galbianus, how those 
youths passed their opinions upon us while they schemed 
against our independence, telling the king that if he sent us 
off it might happen that our work would recoil upon his own 
head, and that the discomfiture carried among enemies he 
himself at last might suffer ; with more in the same vein. 
See whether we ought up to this point to submit our 
heads to their counsels, and by an odious subservience pre- 
cipitate ourselves into greater dangers than humanity itself 
could bear; let one fit of insanity suffice for us. But with 
a profligate conscience to wish to continue in such cruel 
devices, which after all have more in them of crime than 
of high daring, and for the sake of the rage of one ill- 
advised prince to expose ourselves to universal hatred, 
would be utterly impious and mad. Nothing of this sort 


was agreed between us at the palace of Granges. I wish 
now to remind you of our deliberations there, and to 
assure you of this my opinion, according to which we 
must depart hence while all is well, or else I will throw 
myself into some place where I shall be found of nobod} r , 
and then you will all see how you can get on without me. 
You will learn the rest from Stephen. Farewell, and 
reply to me at once by the same messenger." From 

However it may have pleased his wit when put before 
him hypothetically, it is quite evident that the enterprise 
to which he is committed, when it has actually to be faced, 
pleases Agrippa's wit no better than his conscience. The 
court of Austria has forced the young man on a work of 
which the main features are cruelty and treachery. The 
scheme of treachery his own cunning either suggested or 
perfected; but what had amused him as an exercise of 
ingenuity in thought, revolts him as a crime now that he 
finds himself upon the brink of action. The revulsion of 
feeling is assisted, evidently in no small degree, by a near 
view of the perils to be braved for an unworthy purpose. 
Noticeable also in this letter is the impatience of forced 
action, the restless desire for independence, often hereafter 
to be manifested and too seldom asserted with success. 

In this case, the effort to shake off his duty of obedience 
to the emperor's command was unsuccessful. His mes- 
senger returned, bringing no favourable response to his 
expostulation. No way of retreat was opened. The work 
was to be done. 


Tarragon 1 is a province broken up by mountain chains 
that come as spurs from the adjacent Pyrenees. The town 
of Tarragon stands like a citadel upon a rock; and on 

1 The identification of places in the narrative of this Spanish adventure, 
though at first sight difficult, may be considered, I think, certain. Vallis 
Rotunda, Arx Nigra, and Arcona were the names to be interpreted. There 
is no town answering directly to the name with which Barcelona and Va- 
lencia can be associated as is necessary in the story. This fact, and the 
whole texture of the narrative which belongs naturally to what Mr. Ford 
calls " the classical country of revolt," pointed to Catalonia. " Hispanic pete 
Tarraconis arces," Terra Arcona must have been Agrippa's construction of 
the word Tarragona. In the Diccionario de Espana of Pascual Madoz, we 
find etymologies enough to justify the rough assumption of Cornelius. It 
is from the Phoenician tarah and gev, a citadel and strong, says one 
authority. It is Hebrew, says another, and means good land for buyers. 
It is from Tarraco, or Tabal, of the family of Noah, says one ; no, says 
another, Tarraco was an Egyptian chief who landed here; wrong, says a 
third, it is Terra Aeon, the land of the Phoenician Aeon. Says another, it 
is Latin, and was called the Place of Fights, Terra Agonum, by the Scipios, 
because it cost them so much fighting to subdue the natives of that soil. 
Having assumed that Cornelius read Terra Arcona, and meant by Arcona 
Tarragona, the rest of the names fit perfectly with this interpretation. Pre- 
cisely where we might expect to find Vallis Rotunda, we find Villarodona ; 
and "Janotus Bascus de Charona" suggests straightway De Gerona, 
Gerona being a Catalonian town, of which the bishopric was subject to 
the see of Tarragon, a place to which a governor of the district about Tar- 
ragon, as Janotus was, might naturally belong, and the naming of men of 
standing by their towns having been at that time the rule in Catalonia. 
We then find that at a very short distance from Gerona is Bascara, to 
which place we may attribute, though with less absolute certainty, the 
origin of the name Bascus; and for Janotus, I have felt reasonably 
safe in putting Juanetin, since in a history of the Guerra de Catalonia, 
which refers to the same century, I find that, and no other name among the 
Catalonians answering to Janotus. Error in such points is unimportant. 
Of the essential facts I feel no doubt, that Arcona is Tarragon ; Charona, 
Gerona ; and Vallis Rotunda, Villarodona. Having identified Arcona with 
Tarragon, it was a satisfaction to be led straightway to the meaning of 
" Arx Nigra," which is a locality important to the narrative. In the ac- 
count of the fortifications of Tarragon, by Senor Madoz (Diccionario de 
Enpaila'), reference is made to the Fuerte Negro ; and we have also its locality 
defined. Everything, therefore, tallies with Agrippa's narrative. 


the summit, near to the archbishop's palace, within walls 
supposed to have been raised by the ancient Celts, is the 
Black Fort the Fuerte Negro. The seizure of this fort, 
by a treacherous device, seems to have been the opening 
act of the adventure. It was successfully accomplished ; 
but as Cornelius only alludes to the attempt in writing to 
a friend who knows its details, we must be content simply 
to know that it succeeded. After remaining for a certain 
time within the Fuerte Negro, Cornelius was sent with 
others to garrison the house of Juanetin at Villarodona, 
and protect it from the wrath of an excited people. The 
small town of Villarodona, in the province of Tarragon, 
and district of Vails, lies on a pleasant slope by the river 
Gaya. The mountains of Vails, which are not very 
notable, were known long after the sixteenth century as 
an unpeopled wilderness 1 . 

After many days spent in discussion of their perilous 
position, the conspirators in the house of Juanetin learnt 
that their associate Landulph, who had gone back upon 
some mission, had recrossed the Garonne and was upon 
his way to Barcelona 2 . For sufficient reasons it was 

1 ... .* Pueden decirse despoblados. Madoz, loc. cit. 

2 Ep. 10, Lib. i. pp. 687-695 is the authority for this and the succeeding 
details. It is very remarkable that this most striking narrative, coherent 
in every part, giving names of places and people, and describing a thing so 
extremely credible as a Catalonian tumult, should have been neglected by 
all writers. Because the Lyons printers (whose edition of Cornelius was 
unauthorised, and sometimes mutilated, in submission to the priests), be- 
cause these " Bering! fratres," misunderstanding the first sentence, and re- 
garding their author simply as a magician, put an absurd commentary in 
the margin, to this day nobody, in speaking of Agrippa, has referred to 
these adventures beyond saying that he " went to Spain," and adding, or 


judged most prudent that Juanetin should at once repair 
to Barcelona, and there meet his friend. To Villaro- 
dona Barcelona was the nearest port, its distance being 
about forty miles. Leaving, therefore, Cornelius Agrippa 
captain of the garrison, the Serior de Gerona set out on 
his journey. He had determined that he should be back 
by the festival of John the Baptist ; and for that day a 
feast was accordingly appointed by him, to which he had 
bidden sundry of his friends, the Prior of St. George's 
Monastery, and a 'Franciscan priest who was a member of 
his family, with many others. Whether Juanetin did at 
Barcelona see Landulph, and whether anything was planned 
by them, the little garrison at Villarodona never knew. 
The master of the house did not return. The day of the 
appointed dinner-party was at hand ; and when the sun 
had set upon the eve of it, Cornelius, expecting still in 
vain the absent man, and pondering the cause of his delay ; 
anxious, beset with terrible suspicions, uncertain how to 
act; with his mind, as he says, disturbed by presage of the 
coming ill and dread of the approaching night, revolved 
in his mind many conflicting counsels. At last he retired 
to rest ; but when all in the castle were asleep, night not 
being far advanced, the abbot's steward came, for whom, 
when he had given the password to the sentries, the 
drawbridge was let down, and the gate opened. He 
summoned Cornelius Agrippa, Perotti the Franciscan, 

not adding, that he was engaged there in efforts to make gold. A stupid 
man scribbles a stupid note upon the margin of a letter, and the letter is a 
dead letter for three hundred years in consequence. 


and two other of Gerona's relatives, to tell them that on 
his way home from Barcelona their chief had been way- 
laid by a savage crowd of rustics, and that, two of his 
followers being killed, he with the others had been bound 
hand and foot, and carried up the mountains. 

" Take heed," added the messenger, " to the danger 
that is threatening yourselves, unless you can be strongly, 
suddenly prepared. Meet instantly, and hasten to take 
wise thought for your affairs here and your very lives !" 

The receivers of these tidings were astonished and 
alarmed; they had no counsel that sufficed to meet the 
suddenness of the exigency and the greatness of the 
threatened peril no one doubting that the castle would 
be soon surrounded by a hostile people. " And I, too," 
says Cornelius, " the counsellor of so many enterprises, who 
had recentlv been master of so many plots, was wanting 
to myself." All, therefore, agreed in begging that the 
abbot's steward, who had told them of the danger, would 
also tell them, if he could, in what way to avert it. 

Said he : " You must either escape by making a well- 
managed sally, or you must fortify the castle, and that 
strongly, against the seditious rustics ; probably in a few 
days they will separate for want of any guiding head, or 
else be put down by the rough hand of the king." 

Now the country being in arms, it seemed impossible 
to escape by breaking through the watches of the pea- 
santry; and for a few men to defend against numerous 
besiegers a place that was already in ruins, was an 
undertaking perilous indeed. But there was an old 


half-ruined tower three miles distant, situated in one of 
those mountain wildernesses which, as it has been 
said, characterise the district of Vails. The tower stood 
between Villarodona and Tarragon, in a craggy, ca- 
vernous valley, where the broken mountains make 
way for a gulf containing stagnant waters, and jagged, 
inaccessible rocks hem the place in. At the gorge by 
which this place is entered stood the tower, on a hill 
which was itself surrounded by deep bogs and fishers' 
pools, while it also was within a ring of lofty crags. 
There was but one way to this tower, except when the 
ground was frozen, and we speak now of events happening 
at midsummer, the midsummer of the year 1508. The 
way among the pools was by a narrow path of stone, 
hedged with turf walls. The site of the tower made 
it inexpugnable in summer time. It was tenanted by a 
poor bailiff of the abbot's, who was set in charge over the 
fishponds ; the abbot's steward, therefore, told his friends 
that they should occupy and fortify that mountain hold. 

The advice seemed Rood, and was adopted instantly. 
Pack and baggage were brought out, with every accessible 
provision for munition or victualling. Conveying all that 
was most precious and necessary on their horses' backs, 
and themselves bearing the burden of their powder and 
artillery, the little band marched under cover of a dark 
night, as silently as possible, by devious and unfrequented 
ways, to the appointed place. Having entered the tower, 
they entrusted their horses, which they had no means of 
keeping by them, to the steward's care. He rode away 


with them, and not long afterwards day broke St. John 
the Baptist's festival the day appointed for the banquet to 
which he who bade the guests had not returned; and his 
bold soldiers, says Cornelius, had been transformed into 
bats, flitting out of daylight to their cavern. 

They had not fled too soon. At early dawn on that 
day the armed peasantry was already assembling about 
the walls of the abandoned dwelling of Juanetin. Some 
bringing ladders scaled the crumbling battlements, others 
beat with strong axes at the doors; the house was seized, 
and everything it contained scattered in wreck, destroyed, 
or carried away by the people. That was the festival. 
The people ran from hall to chamber in vain search for 
the companions of their enemy. The women and children, 
who had been left quietly asleep, woke in alarm, but knew 
not what to say. They could not help the search, which 
was maintained most fiercely for The German. Under 
that name was sought Cornelius Agrippa, for from all 
quarters had corne the rumour that he had been the 
author of the atrocious counsel of the cruel deed, that it 
was he whose arts had caused the fall of the Black Fort, 
impregnable by violence, the miserable massacre of the 
garrison, and the subversion of the public liberty. Troops 
of peasantry descending from the mountains filled the 
valley; everywhere were to be heard the shouts of an 
angry host of men eager to put an end to the 'conspiracy 
against their public rights. The hiding place of the con- 
spirators becoming known, the flood of wrath poured 
down towards the tower, but the strength of the position 


was then felt. With a barricade of overthrown waggons 
that had been used by the bailiff, the sole path to the 
besieged was closed, and behind this barrier they posted 
themselves with their arquebuses, of Avhich one only 
sufficed to daunt a crowd of men accustomed to no 
weapons except slings or bows and arrows. After suffer- 
ing some slaughter, the peasantry discovered that the tower 
was not to be stormed, and altering their design, they 
settled down with dogged perseverance to beset the place, 
and by a strict siege starve the little garrison into sur- 

There were, indeed, among the besiegers, says Agrippa, 
some whose experience of sedition had been great, pro- 
fessing that they still abided by their customary loyalty 
towards the king. By the help -of these the abbot himself, 
who always had enjoyed a high repute among the people, 
while the storm of rebellion was raging called at Tarragon 
a public meeting, pointed out to those who gathered round 
him the futility of their efforts, the emptiness of their pur- 
pose, and persuaded them against disloyalty towards the 
king ; he urged also the restoration of Juanetin and the rais- 
ing of the siege laid to the tower. But his labour for his 
friends was vain. If by the abbot here mentioned is meant 
the Archbishop of Tarragon, it was Don Gonzalo Fernandez 
de Heredia, who held that office between the years 1489 
and 1511. The vicinity of the Black Fort to the arch- 
bishop's palace would compel that dignitary, if he was 
not absent, to a strong feeling for or against the party of 
Gerona, and the veneration of the people for the abbot, 


as well as the course of proceeding taken by him, would, 
in a slight degree, favour the opinion that under this name 
Cornelius referred to the archbishop himself. Archbishop 
or not, and from the sequel of the narrative I think not, 
he pleaded to deaf ears ; the peasantry, risen in arms, 
scarcely allowed the upholders of the king's authority to 
speak, replying promptly that their wrath was not against 
the king, but against Juanetin and his tyranny, whereby 
they had been lorded over savagely, contrary to all former 
usage, and vexed with slavery beneath intolerable burdens, 
so that under the name and form of the protection of the 
king they had been robbed of the liberty inherited from 
their forefathers. With many threats of vengeance they 
urged the wresting from them of the Fuerte Negro, 
clamouring with the bitterest accusations against the 
Senor de Gerona and Cornelius Agrippa; against the one 
as the betrayer of his country, and against the other as 
the man who by detestable contrivances had robbed them 
of their fortress and their liberty ; against both as men 
who had moved the king to cruel exercise of his authority, 
and to so atrocious a use of his victory, that their blood, 
they asserted, and their lives would not content him. 
A liberty, regained by force of arms, they would not 
barter for the flattery of cheating words, but they would 
acknowledge the king for their master upon those con- 
ditions under which he had held rule over their elders : 
to the lowest slavery he ought not to compel them, and 
they would not be compelled. All with one voice cried, 
touching Juanetin and his colleagues in the tower, that 


they would rather take the enemies delivered into their 
possession, than dismiss them to become a second time 
avengers. Surely, they said, they ought not to prefer the 
safety of these people to their own; and added, proudly, 
that in their being loose they had more matter for fear 
than in the anger of the king, that more help could be 
got out of their death than out of the king's promises. 
They who had lost relations at the massacre in the Black 
Fort laboured especially to keep alive the fury of the 
people. All being agreed in urgent accusation against 
Juanetin de Gerona, all determined not to suffer the 
escape of his companions closely beset in the tower, the 
abbot, or archbishop, parted at dusk from the men whose 
wrath he had been utterly unable to appease. 

The Catalonians in those days were bold asserters of 
their rights, and very ready to chastise the nobles who 
opposed them. Not many years had elapsed since they 
had forcibly set up a prince of their own choosing, and 
forty years afterwards a famous Catalonian war was the 
result of the high value set by them on public liberty. 
The sympathies of Englishmen can only be against Cor- 
nelius and his associates. Juanetin de Gerona was a 
double traitor, probably ; a traitor to his country, as the 
people said, because in the name of the King of Aragon 
he became its oppressor. But if he was not playing a 
double game, how was it that, while professing to recover 
Ferdinand's authority, he used the help offered him by 
Maximilian? There was so much bold treachery and 
petty meanness forming, in the sixteenth century, a part 


of the routine of statecraft, the relations between what is 
done and what is meant become often so complex, that it 
needs the wit of a sixteenth century diplomatist fairly to 
understand the significance of many an action not directly 
labelled with its meaning. Be it enough for us here to 
know that the young Cornelius Agrippa suffered in Spain 
merited discomfiture ; that, as he approached his under- 
taking there, he came to see it in its true light, as a 
matter not of glory, but of shame, and would have 
removed his hand from it had he been able. Self- 
conscious, ambitious as he was, much as he yearned, out 
of the largeness of his mind and its self-occupation, for a 
perfect independence, it has been seen how he allowed 
his course to be determined by the pressure from without. 
Self-conscious without being fully self-possessed, ambi- 
tious, powerful, yet failing in that lofty reach of power 
which makes poverty a source of wealth, discomfiture the 
root of triumph, already we perceive how he may here- 
after should he venture on an independent path be 
hindered by the opposition he begets. 






PERILOUS weeks were being passed by the adven- 
turers within the mountain hold. More formidable than 
the actual conflict was the famine consequent on their 
blockade. Perrot, the keeper of the fish-ponds, and 
erewhile the solitary occupant of that old tower among the 
rocks and marshes, taking cunning counsel with himself 
to help his guests and to get rid of them, explored with 
indefatigable zeal every cranny in the wall of rock by 
which they were surrounded. Clambering among the 
wastes, with feet accustomed to the difficulties . of the 
mountain, he hoped that perchance he might be the dis- 
coverer of some route worthy, at least, to be tried by men 
who fled from an extremer peril. At length a devious 
and rugged way, by which unconquerable obstacles of 
crag and chasm were avoided and the mountain top was 
to be reached, this friendly peasant found. Looking 
down from the heights he saw how, upon the other side, 
the mountain rose out of a lake, known to him as the 


Black Lake, which has an expanse of about four mile?, 
and upon the farther shore of which his master's abbey 
stood. Attempting next the difficult descent upon that 
other side, he boldly struck into a gorge by which the 
mountain snows had poured a torrent down. But Per- 
rot, at the lake, was still far from the abbey; and, to men 
without a boat, the water was a barrier yet more im- 
passable than the steep mountain. He retraced his way, 
therefore, and by sunset reached the tower, where an 
assembly of the garrison was held to hear the result of 
his explorations. The judgment upon it, of course, was 
that escape was impossible, unless the boat could be 
obtained, of getting which there was no hope, unless a 
letter could be carried through the midst of the besiegers 
to the abbot's hand. 

Now the besieging army'of the peasants posted and kept 
constantly relieved strong guards upon every path into 
the valley, and allowed no person either to go in or pass 
out on any pretence whatever. Moreover, from the tower 
no path could be reached except by the one narrow lane 
across the marshes, barricaded as before described; and to 
prevent a sally by the doomed band of conspirators, the 
outlet by this lane was the point best guarded, and, 
indeed, held by an overwhelming force. The perplexed 
conspirators, in council, saw no hope for themselves, 
except through any further help Perrot might furnish; 
him they besought accordingly, and he informed them 
that there was a way, known to himself only, by which 
the marshes could be forded ; but that such knowledge 


was in this case of no use, because, once across them, 
there were still guards posted upon every path out of the 

Under these desperate circumstances the ingenuity of 
young Agrippa was severely tested, and he justified the 
credit he had won for subtle wit. The keeper of the 
fish-ponds had a son, who was a shepherd-boy. Cornelius 
took this youth, disfigured him with stains of milk- 
thistle and juice of other herbs, befouled his skin and 
painted it with shocking spots to imitate the marks of 
leprosy, adjusted his hair into a filthy and unsightly 
bunch, dressed him in beggar's clothes, and gave him a 
crooked branch for stick, within which there was scooped 
a hollow nest for the concealment of the letter. Upon 
the boy so equipped a dreadful picture of the outcast 
leper the leper's bell was hung, his father seated him 
upon an ox, and, having led him during the darkness of 
the night across the marshes by the ford, deposited him 
before sunrise on dry ground, and left him. Stammering, 
as he went, petitions for alms, this boy walked without 
difficulty by a very broad road made for him among the 
peasantry. Even the guards set upon the paths regarded 
his approach with terror, and, instead of stopping at their 
posts to question him, fled right and left as from a snake 
that could destroy them with its evil eye, and flung alms 
to him from a distance. 

So the boy went upon his errand, safely, and, returning 
next day at about the first watch of the night to the 
border of the marsh, announced his return by ringing of 

VOL. I. E 


the bell. His father, on the bullock, crossed the ford to 
bring him in, and, as he came with the desired answer, 
there was great rejoicing by Cornelius and his com- 

They spent the night in preparation for departure. To- 
wards dawn they covered their retreat by a demonstration 
of their usual state of watchfulness and desperation, fired 
several guns, and gave other indications of their presence. 
This done, they set forth, in dead silence, carrying their 
baggage, and were guided by Perrot to the summit. 
There they lay gladly down among the stones to rest, 
while their guide descended on the other side and 
spread the preconcerted signal, a white cloth, upon a 
rock. When he returned, they ate the breakfast they 
had brought with them, all sitting with their eyes towards 
the lake. At about nine o'clock in the morning two 
fishermen's barks were discerned, which hoisted a red 
flag, the abbot's signal. Rejoicing at the sight of this, 
the escaped men fired off their guns in triumph from the 
mountain-top, a hint to the besieging peasantry of their 
departure, and, at the same time, a signal to the rescuers. 
Still following Perrot, they descended, along ways by him 
discovered, to the meadows bordering the lake, entered 
the boats, and before evening were safe under the abbot's 
roof. The day of this escape was the 14th of August. 
They had been suffering siege, therefore, during almost 
two months in the mountain fastness. 

To the peasants an escape like this seemed a pure 
miracle, and it produced among them much anxiety, for 


they misdoubted whether the same cunning arts which 
opened unknown ways out of the tower, might not by a 
strange road bring suddenly an army of the king's into 
their midst, to plague the whole valley with fire and 
sword. Insecure, as they believed, by night or day, 
many seceded from the work of insurrection ; but the 
leaders of it, who had scattered the goods of Juanetin, 
had taken him and kept him prisoner, abided firmly by 
their purpose, for they thought no safety possible if he 
were free. They dreaded not only confiscation, exile, but 
they doubted also whether life even would be spared to 
them and theirs if the Seiior de Gerona were restored to 

Cornelius Agrippa being safe could quit the scene, and 
quitted it without waiting to see how the difficulty would 
be solved between the Catalonian peasants and their 
master. It perplexed him -much that he had no tidings 
of his friend Landulph, who either had been or was to 
have been at Barcelona ; and the abbot counselled him, 
in his perplexity, to go to court again, where the favour 
he had formerly enjoyed would be regained, and he could 
easily repair his shattered fortune. He declared, how- 
ever, that he had no mind to risk being again sent upon 
hazardous missions, and remained several days in the 
abbey, doubtful as to the course which he should next 
pursue, and not very cheerfully disposed to trust himself 
in travel to the unknown temper of the people. 

The German youth then found a friend in an old man, 


Antonius Xanthus 1 , whose advice was, that he should 
take heart, go into strange countries and among strange 
people, see the world, feel his way in it, and spread his 
sails for any gale of fortune ; that he should constitute 
himself, in fact, knight-errant and adventurer, with not 
the discovery of a lady or a giant, but of his comrade 
Landulph, for a special object of desire. "Moderate 
your concern," said the old man, " explore the shores of 
Spain, look for your friend in his own Italy, and I will 
go as your companion on the way." 

The person thus offering his companionship was an un- 
lettered old man, who had seen much of the rough side of 
the world, and appeared to Cornelius worthy of especial 
patronage. Though he was no philosopher, he had a vast 
store of experience. Captured by Djem, the unfortunate 
brother of Bajazet the Second, he had once served as an in- 
terpreter among the Turkish galleys ; he had lived to a great 
age, filling his mind constantly with every-day knowledge, 
and was therefore useful as a travelling companion in strange 
regions. It was his merit also to be faithful and silent 
one who might safely be admitted to a knowledge of the 
mysteries in which Cornelius indulged, and who was 
content to be instructed and sworn into the league of 
which Cornelius and Landulph were important members. 

With this singular companion and his servant Stephen, 
the young courtier, after a stay of nine or ten days at the 

1 Ep. 8 and 10, Lib. i. pp. 686, 694, for this and for what follows until 
the next reference. 


abbey 1 , on the 24th of August, 1508, went forth to 
seek an independent fortune in the world. Of course 
their first visit was to Barcelona, where they hoped to 
find some clue to the position of Landulph; but after 
spending three days in the town, nothing discovered, 
they proceeded to Valentia. There dwelt a most prac- 
tised astrologer and philosopher, Comparatus Sara- 
cenus, the disciple of Zacutus, but from him also no 
information could be had. The travellers then sold 
their horses, and sailed from Valentia for Italy. By 
way of the Balearic Islands and Sardinia they went to 
Naples, where they were disheartened by their ill success, 
and determined to pass forthwith into France. They took 
ship, therefore, at Naples for Leghorn, and travelling to 
Avignon, there halted. In that town they learnt, after a 
few days, from a travelling merchant, that the person of 
whom they sought tidings was at Lyons. 

At once, therefore, on the 17th of December, to 
Landulph at Lyons, Cornelius wrote, from Avignon, a 
letter, expressing joy at his friend's safety, and giving 
tidings of his own happy escape ; for since the Italian left 
Villarodona to procure help for his friends, neither had 
been certain whether the other was alive or dead. From 
Villarodona itself Cornelius had dated two epistles to his 
friend 1 , urging him to make all speed in his embassy, 
and by putting a prompt end to their dangers, put an end 
also to the state of compulsion under which he lived ; but 
whether those letters might not have been written to a 
1 Ep. 6 and 7, Lib. i. pp. 685-6. 


dead man or a captive lie had no opportunity of know- 
ing. Writing from Avignon, Cornelius expressed briefly 
the magnitude of the danger recently escaped, announced 
that all was well with him again, and added, " Nothing 
now remains but that, after so many dangers, we insist 
upon a meeting of our brother combatants, and absolve 
ourselves from the oaths of our confederacy, that we may 
recover our old state of fellowship and have it un- 
molested." He undertook to advise two confederates in 
Aquitaine, MM. de Bouelles 1 and Clairchamps, of their 
safety in Avignon and Lyons, while he left to Landulph 
the business of sending word to Germain de Brie and 
another delegate in Burgundy, as well as Fasch and 
Wigand \ who were at Paris. 

Of the associates here mentioned some only were men 
active enough to produce work remembered by posterity. 
Charles de Bouelles, or Bovil, born at Sancourt, in Ver- 
mandois, studied at Paris, and travelled afterwards in 
Italy, Germany, and Spain. At Noyon he became a 
canon and professor of theology, and he died in the 
middle of the sixteenth century. He had already, in 
1503, published a book on metaphysics and geometry, 
the quadrature of the circle, and the cubication of the 
sphere. When republished in 1510, a year or two after 
the present mention of him as one of Cornelius Agrippa's 
fellow-searchers after wisdom, the character of the work 
showed that he also must have been at that time an active 
inquirer into curiosities of knowledge. It contained 
1 Ep. 9, Lib. i. p. 687. 


recently-written books on Sense, on Nothing, on Genera- 
tion, on Wisdom, on the Twelve Numbers, Letters upon 
the Quadripartite Work, and so forth. Later in life he 
wrote a good deal of theology, something of language, a 
book on the utility of arts, and collected three books of 
common proverbs. 

Germain de Brie, native of Auxerre, became known as 
a canon of Paris, who was a good linguist, and wrote 
excellent Greek verse. He translated some of the works 
of Chrysostom, arid produced before he died, in 1550, 
Anti-Morum, the fruit of a controversy with Sir Thomas 
More. Of the other friends I find no trace, unless but 
that is not in the least likely Wigand was the Domini- 
can Wirt or Wigandus who quarrelled about the Im- 
maculate Conception, attacked the Minorites, supported 
his views with false miracles, and was burnt at Berne 
in 1509. 

Cornelius, then, having arranged concerning these 
associates, therewith commended himself to his dearest 
friend, who on receipt of his letter, twenty days after- 
wards, namely, on the 9th of January, 1509, began his 
reply 1 with " Alleluia ! Alleluia ! Alleluia ! " and a com- 
parison of his joy to that of Mary Magdalen or the 
apostles when they learnt the resurrection of the Lord. 
He is unable to express the energy of his congratulations, 
and has also to relate how he had made inquiry for his 
friend across the Pyrenees, by sea and land, by lake and 
river, field, city, and town ; how he had looked for him 

1 Ep. 9, Lib. i. p. 687. 


through the entire kingdom of Navarre, through Gascony 
and Aquitaine ; had learnt nothing from De Bouelles and 
Clairchamps at Toulouse, and then had hastened to Lyons 
in the belief that, among the merchants of every tongue 
and clime by which that mart was visited, he might 
obtain some news of his friend's fate. The search, so 
vaunted, it will be observed, was only made on the 
straight road to France, the home of the conspiracy. At 
Lyons, said Landulph, he was panting to embrace his 
friend again, and when Agrippa came there, they could 
talk more at ease about the renewal of their confedera- 
tion. He gave information of the movements of some 
comrades, and parted with the expression of a wish that 
his friend might live long, and a belief that his fame 
would surpass even his labours. He had asked in the 
course of this letter for a full account of the escape, 
which Cornelius sent, adding a hope that Landulph 
might be able to visit him at Avignon and talk their 
secrets over, since, being detained by the exhaustion 
of his funds till he could make some money 1 , he 

1 He says : " Sumptuum tenuitate coacti Avenione nos, instructa solida 
nosti-a chrysotoci officina tantisper manere, et in opere perseverare oportebit, 
quoadusque longioris iteneris nova fomenta excubemus." Which manner 
of speaking gets a marginal note from the commentator to the following 
effect : " Hoc loco fateri videter apertissime, chrysopseam se exercuisse cum 
sociis foedere sibi adjunctis, ob quam saepius apud principes libertatis jac- 
turam ferine fecisset, captivumque fuisse ob hanc rem detentum in Valle 
rotunda." In a former letter, when expecting honour from the expedition, 
he said metaphorically that he seemed already to hold " that golden branch 
of the tree difficult to climb," meaning success, the marginal note was 
" Chymica paratam arte putat arborem, de qua Paracelsus, Lib. de natura 
rerum." Now, as to the likelihood of young Agrippa's taking it into his head 


could not leave for Lyons until after the lapse of a little 

to stop at Avignon till he had made, literally till he had created, money 
enough to carry him on further, we shall see that in a book written about 
this time he says, " apertissime," that to make an ounce of gold out of an 
ounce of gold is the extreme limit of his conjuring. And the letter, which, 
by misreading one sentence, under the influence of a general idea that it is 
a magician who writes, the commentator seems to have warned all subse- 
quent readers against noticing, tells a true chapter of life surely " aper- 
tissime" enough. 




THE secrets to be talked over between Cornelius and 
his friend related to that study of the mysteries of know- 
ledge in which the Theosophists assisted one another. 
Secret societies, chiefly composed of curious and learned 
youths, had by this time become numerous, and numerous 
especially among the Germans. Not only the search after 
the philosopher's stone, which was then worthy to be pro- 
secuted by enlightened persons, but also the new realms 
of thought laid open by the first glance at Greek litera- 
ture, and by the still more recent introduction of a study 
of the Hebrew language, occupied the minds of these 
associated scholars. Such studies often carried those who 
followed them within the borders of forbidden ground, 
and therefore secrecy was a condition necessary to their 
freedom of inquiry. Towards the close of the sixteenth 
century such associations (the foundation of which had 
been a desire to keep thought out of fetters) were de- 
veloped into the form of brotherhoods of Rosicrucians : 
Physician, Theosophist, Chemist, and now, by the mercy 
of God, Rosicrucian, became then the style in which a 


brother gloried. The brotherhoods of Rosi crucians are 
still commonly remembered, but in the social history of 
Europe they are less to be considered than those first 
confederations of Theosophists, which nursed indeed mys- 
tical errors gathered from the Greeks and Jews, but out 
of whose theories there was developed much of a pure 
spiritualism that entered into strife with what was out- 
wardly corrupt and sensual in the body of the Roman 
Church, and thus prepared the way for the more vital 
attacks of the Reformers. When first Greek studies were 
revived, the monks commonly regarded them as essen- 
tially adverse to Roman interests, and the very language 
seemed to them infected with the plague of heresy. In 
the Netherlands it became almost a proverb with them 
that to be known for a grammarian was to be reputed 
heretic. Not seldom, indeed, in later times, has John 
Reuchlin, who, for his Greek and Hebrew scholarship 
was called, after the manner of his day, the Phoenix of 
Germans, and who was the object of an ardent hero- 
worship to men like Cornelius Agrippa, been called also 
the Father of the Reformation 1 . Certainly Luther, 
Erasmus, and Melancthon had instruction from him ; 
by him it was that Schwartzerd had been taught to call 
himself Melancthon ; and many will remember how, after 
his death, Erasmus, in a pleasant dialogue, raised his old 
friend to the rank of saint, and prayed to him, " Oh, 

1 He is so called on the title-page of an English adaptation of Mayer- 
hofTs JteucMin und seine Zeit, Berlin, 1830 The Life and Times of John 
Reuchlin, or Capnion, the Father of the German Reformation. By Francis 
Barham, Esq. Whittaker and Co. 1843. 


holy soul, be favourable to the languages; be favourable 
to those that love honourers of the languages ; be pro- 
pitious to the sacred tongues." But Reuchlin for the 
taste of smoke in it, Reuchlin quasi Reekie, his name 
was turned into the Greek form, Capnio Reuchlin, or 
Capnio, never passed as a reformer beyond detestation of 
the vices of the priesthood. Like Cornelius, who began 
his life before the public as a scholar by an act of homage 
to his genius, Reuchlin loved liberty and independence, 
cherished the idol of free conscience, but never fairly 
trusted himself to its guidance. To the last an instinct of 
obedience to the Church governed his actions, and the 
spiritual gold he could extract from Plato, Aristotle, or the 
wonderful Cabala of the Jews, was in but small proportion 
to the dross fetched up with it from the same ancient 

A contemporary notion of the Reformation, not with- 
out some rude significance in this respect, is said to 
have been obtruded upon Charles V. by a small body of 
unknown actors, who appeared before him in 1530, when 
he was in Germany. He had been dining with his 
brother Ferdinand, and did not refuse their offer to pro- 
duce a comedy in dumb show. One dressed as a scholar, 
labelled Capnio, brought before the emperor a bundle of 
sticks some crooked and some straight laid them down 
in the highway, and departed. Then entered another, 
who professed to represent Erasmus, looked at the sticks, 
shook his head, made various attempts to straighten the 
crooked ones, and finding that he could not do so, shook 


his head over them again, put them down where he 
found them, and departed. Then came an actor, labelled 
Luther, with a torch, who set all that was crooked in the 
bundle blazing. When he was gone entered one dressed 
as an emperor, who tried in vain to put the fire out with 
his sword. Last came Pope Leo X., to whom, grieving 
dismally over the spectacle before him, there were two 
pails brought ; one contained oil, the other water. His 
holiness, to quell the fire, poured over it the bucket- 
ful of oil,, and while the flame attracted all eyes by the 
power, beyond mastery, with which it shot up towards 
heaven, the actors made their escape undetected 1 . 

Now, it was over the crooked sticks of Capnio, and 
many other matters difficult of comprehension, that Cor- 
nelius and his confederates were bent in curious and 
anxious study. " The bearer of these letters," said Lan- 
dulph, in excusing himself on the plea of illness, from a 
winter journey to his friend at Avignon 2 " the bearer 
of these letters is a German, native of Nuremberg, but 
dwelling at Lyons ; and he is a curious inquirer after 
hidden mysteries, a free man, restrained by no fetters, 
who, impelled by I know not what rumour concerning 
you, desires to sound your depths." That the man him- 
self might be sounded, as one likely to have knowledge 
of some important things, and that if it seemed fit, he 
should be made a member of their brotherhood, was the 

1 Johann Reuchlin und seine Zeit. Von Dr. Ernst Theodor Mayerhoff. 
Berlin, 1830. Pp. 79, 80, in note. He cites the story from Majus. 

2 Ep. Corn. Agr. 11, Lib. i. p. 695. 


rest of the recommendation of this person by Lanclulph 
to his friend Agrippa. 

At Lyons were assembled many members of his league, 
awaiting the arrival of the young soldier-philosopher. His 
early taste for an inquiry into mysteries had caused him 
to take all possible advantage, as a scholar, of each change 
of place and each extension of acquaintance among learned 
men who were possessors of rare books. He had searched 
every accessible volume that might help him in the prose- 
cution of the studies that had then a fascinatiop, not for 
him only, but for not a few of the acutest minds in 
Christendom. At that time there was, in the modem 
sense, no natural science ; the naturalists of ancient Greece 
and Rome being the sole authorities in whom the learned 
could put trust. Of the miraculous properties of plants 
and animals, and parts of animals, even at the close of the 
sixteenth century, careful and sober men placed as accepted 
knowledge many extravagant ideas on record. At the 
beginning of the century, when a belief in the influences 
of the stars, in the interferences of demons, and in the 
most wonderful properties of bodies, was the rule among 
learned and unlearned Luther himself not excluded from 
the number an attempt to collect and group, if it might 
be, according to some system, the most recondite secrets 01 
what passed for the divine ordering of nature, was in no 
man's opinion foolish, though in the opinion of the greater 
number criminal. Belief in the mysteries of magic, not 
want of belief, caused men to regard with enmity and 
dread researches into secrets that might give to those by 


whom they were discovered subtle and superhuman power, 
through possessing which they would acquire an influence, 
horrible to suspect, over their fellow-creatures. Detach- 
ing their search into the mysteries of the universe from 
all fear of this kind, the members of such secret societies as 
that to which Cornelius belonged gathered whatever fruit 
they could from the forbidden tree, and obtained mutual 
benefit by frank exchange of information. Cornelius had 
already, by incessant search, collected notes for a complete 
treatise upon magic, and of these not a few were obtained 
from Reuchlin's Hebrew-Christian way of using the Cabala. 
From Avignon, after a short stay, Cornelius Agrippa 
went to Lyons 1 , and remaining there some weeks, com- 
pared progress with his friends, and no doubt also for- 
mally divested himself of any further responsiblity con- 
nected with the Spanish enterprise. Towards the end of this 
year, a friend at Cologne, Theodoric, Bishop of Cyrene 2 , 
wrote, expressing admiration of him, as of one among so 
many thousand Germans who at sundry times and places 
had displayed in equal degree power to labour vigorously 
as a man at arms as well as man of letters. Who does not 
know, the bishop asks, how few of many thousands have 
done that? He envies those who can thus earn the wreath 
of Mars without losing the favour of Minerva, and calls 
the youth " in arms a man, in scholarship a teacher." To 
escape the soldier's life of bondage seems to be now the 
ambition of the scholar. With the world before him, in 
the twenty-third year of his age, well born, distinguished 
1 Ep. 12, Lib. i. p. 696. * Ep. 12, Lib. L p. 700. 


among all who knew him for the rare extent of his attain- 
ments, Cornelius, attended by his servant Stephen, quitted 
his friends at Lyons, and rode to Authun, where he was 
received in the abbey of a liberal and hospitable man, phy- 
sician, theologian, and knight by turns, M. Champier, 
who, having been born at Saint Saphorin-le-Chateau, near 
Lyons, was called Symphorianus Champier, or Campegius, 
and who, not content with his own noble ancestry, assigned 
himself, by right of the Campegius, to the family of the 
Campeggi of Bologna, and assumed its arms. He studied 
at Paris Litera humaniora, at Montpellier medicine, and 
practised at Lyons. He lived to obtain great fame, 
deserving little, and losing after his death all. It was not 
until five years after this visit from Cornelius Agrippa 
that Symphorianus, acting as body physician to the Duke 
of Lorraine, was knighted on the battle-field of Marig- 
nano. Among his writings, those which most testify his 
sympathy with the inquiries of Cornelius, are a book on 
the Miracles of Scripture, a Life of Arnold of Villeneuve, 
and a French version of Sibylline oracles. This Cham- 
pier then sympathised with the enthusiasm of the young 
theosophist, and under his roof the first venture of Cor- 
nelius before the world of letters seems to have been 
planned. In the last week of May 1 , we find that he has 
sent Stephen to fetch De Brie from Dole, has summoned 
Antonius Xanthus from Niverne, and wishes, in associa- 
tion with Symphorianus, to arrange a meeting with Lan- 
dulph, at any convenient place and time. He has some- 
1 Ep. 12, Lib. i. p. 696. 


tiling in hand concerning which he wishes to take counsel 
with his comrades. A few days afterwards he and Landulph 
are at Dole together ; and while Cornelius has left Dole for 
a short time to go to Chalon (sur Saone), his friend sends 
word to him that he has engaged on his behalf the interest 
of the Archbishop of Besan^on (Antony I., probably not an 
old man, since he was alive thirty years afterwards 1 ), who 
desires greatly to see him, and boasts that he can give in- 
formation of some things unknown perhaps even to him. 
The archbishop is impatient to see the person who has 
stored up from rare books, even those written in Greek 
and Hebrew, so great a number of the secrets of the 
universe. Landulph, to content him, antedates the time 
appointed for his friend's return, and while reporting this, 
adds that there arc many at Dole loud in the praise of 
Cornelius, and none louder than himself 2 . The influence 
of his associates is evidently at work on his behalf among 
the magnates of the town and university of Dole, and 
learned men in the adjoining towns of Burgundy, for it 
is at Dole that he has resolved to make his first public 
appearance as a scholar, by expounding in a series of 
orations Reuchlin's book on the Mirific Word 3 . At 
Chalon, however, Cornelius fell sick of a summer pesti- 
lence 4 , from which he was recovering on the eighth of 

1 Zedler's Universal Lexicon, Art. Besanqon. 
* Ep. 13. Lib. i. p. 696. 

8 H. C. Agr. Expostulate .... cum Joanne Catilineti. Opuscula ed. 
1532. Mense Maio. fol. D. iii. 
4 Ep. 14. Lib. i. p. 696. 

VOL. I. F 


July. As soon as health permitted he returned to Dole, 
where there was prepared for him a cordial reception. 

Dole is a pretty little town, and at that time possessed 
the university which was removed in after years to Be- 
sanon. Its canton was called, for its beauty and fertility, 
the Val d' Amour; and when Besangon was independent 
of the lords of Burgundy Dole was their capital. A 
pleasant miniature capital, with not four thousand inhabi- 
tants, a parliament, a university, a church of Notre Dame 
whereof the tower could be seen from distant fields, a 
princely residence, Dole la Joyeuse they called it until 
thirty years before Cornelius Agrippa declaimed his 
orations there ; but after it had been, in 1479, captured 
and despoiled by a French army, it was called Dole la 

Mistress of Dole and Burgundy was Maximilian's 
daughter, Margaret of Austria, who, in this year of 
Agrippa's life, was twenty-nine years old. She was already 
twice a widow. When affianced twice once vainly to 
France, a second time to Spain, and likely to perish in a 
tempest before reaching her appointed husband she had 
wit to write a clever epitaph upon herself. Her Spanish 
husband died almost after the first embrace, and she had 
since, after four years of wedded happiness, lost her true 
husband, Philibert of Savoy. She was twenty-four years 
old when that happened, and resolved to make an end of 
marrying. In 1506, after the death of Archduke Philip, 
her father Maximilian being guardian of his grandson 
Charles the Fifth, made Margaret his governor over the 


Netherlands, and appointed her to rule also over Bur- 
gundy and the Charolois. Thus she came to be, in the 
year 1509, mistress at Dole. A clever, lively woman, 
opposed strongly to France, and always mindful of the 
interests of that house of Austria to which the family of 
young Agrippa was attached, Margaret was well known 
for her patronage of letters and her bounty towards 
learned men. It would be, therefore, a pleasant transfer 
of his loyalty, Agrippa thought, from Maximilian to 
Margaret, if he could thereby get rid of what he regarded 
as camp slavery under the one, and earn the favour of 
the other in the academic grove. To earn Margaret's 
good-will and help upon the royal road to fortune was 
one main object of Cornelius when he announced at Dole 
that he proposed to expound Reuchlin's book, on the 
Mirific Word, in orations, to which, inasmuch as they 
were to be delivered in honour of the most serene Prin- 
cess Margaret, the whole public would have gratuitous 
admission l . 

Poor boy ! he could not possibly have made a more 
genuine and honest effort, or one less proper to be used 
by evil men for the damnation of his character. Mar- 
garet was the princess to whom of all others he was able 
to pay unaffected homage, and Reuchlin, then the boast 
of Germans, was the scholar of whom before every other 
he, a German youth, might choose to hold discourse to 
the Burgundians. Of Reuchlin, JEgidius, chief of the 

1 Dedication prefixed to the treatise De NoUUtate Faminece Sexus. 
Opuscula ed. 1532. Mense Maio. fol. A. i. 



Austin Friars, wrote \ that he " had blessed him and all 
mortals by his works." Philip Beroaldus, the younger, 
wrote to him : " Pope Leo X. has read your Pytha- 
gorean book, as he reads all good books, greedily ; then 
it was read by the Cardinal de' Medici, and I am ex- 
pecting next to have my turn." This book, which had 
been read by the Pope himself with eager pleasure, was a 
wonder of the day, and was in the most perfect unison 
with the whole tone of the boy's mind ; he really under- 
stood it deeply, it was most dear to him as a theosophist, 
and he was not to be blamed if he felt, also, that of all 
books in the world there was none of which the exposition 
would so fully serve his purpose of displaying the extent 
and depth of his own store of knowledge. 

Mainly upon what was said and written by Cornelius 
Agrippa in this twenty-third year of his age has been 
founded the defamation by which, when he lived, his 
spirit was tormented and the hope of his existence 
miserably frustrated, by which, now that he is dead, his 
character comes down to us defiled. This victim, at least, 
has not escaped the vengeance of the monks, and his 
crime was that he studied vigorously in his salad days 
those curiosities of learning into which, at the same time, 
popes, bishops, and philosophers, mature of years, inquired 
with equal faith and almost equal relish, but less energy 
or courage. For a clear understanding of the ground, 
and of the perils of the ground, now taken by Cornelius 

1 Quoted from Mayenhoff, whom Mr. Barbara oddly enough here trans- 
lates, " JSgidius, general of the Eremites, wrote to the holy Augustio." 


Agrippa, little more is necessary than a clear notion of 
what was signified by Reuchlin's book on the Mirific 
Word ; but what has to be said of Reuchlin and his book, 
as well as of other matters that will hereafter concern the 
fortunes of Cornelius, requires some previous attention to 
a subject pretty well forgotten in these days by a people 
rich in better knowledge ; we must recal, in fact, some of 
the main points of the Cabala. 

The traditions, or Cabala, of the Jews 1 are contained in 
sundry books, written by Hebrew Rabbis, and consist of 
a strange mixture of fable and philosophy varying on a 
good many points, but all adhering with sufficient accuracy 
to one scheme of doctrine. They claim high and remote 
origin. Some say that the first Cabala were received by 
Adam from the angel Raziel, who gave him, either while 
he yet remained in Paradise, or else at the time of his 
expulsion, to console and help him, a book full of divine 
wisdom. In this book were the secrets of nature, and by 
knowledge of them Adam entered into conversation with 
the sun and moon, knew how to summon good and evil 
spirits, to interpret dreams, foretel events, to heal, and to 
destroy. This book, handed down from father to son, 
came into Solomon's possession, and by its aid Solomon 
became master of many potent secrets. A cabalistical 

1 This account of the Cabala is derived from German sources, among 
which the chief are Brucker's Historia Philosophies and the Kabbah Denu- 
data, a collection of old cabalistical writings arranged and explained by 
Christian Knorr von Rosenroth. The Germans of our own time have 
resumed investigation of the subject, and a volume has been published 
on the Religions Philosophic des Sohar, by D. H. Joel, Leipsic, 1849. The 
subject has also been discussed at large by more than one French Orient- 
alist. It has obtained little distinct notice in England. 


volume, called the Book of Raziel, was, in the middle 
ages, sometimes to be seen among the Jews. 

Another account said that the first cabalistical book 
was the Sepher Jezirah, written by Abraham; but the 
most prevalent opinion was, that when the written law 
was given on Mount Sinai to Moses, the Cabala, or mys- 
terious interpretation of it, was taught to him also. Then 
Moses, it was said, when he descended from the moun- 
tain, entered Aaron's tent, and taught him also the secret 
powers of the written word; and Aaron, having been 
instructed, placed himself at the right hand of Moses, 
and stood by while his sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, who 
had been called into the tent, received the same in- 
struction. On the right and left of Moses and Aaron then 
sat Ithamar and Eleazar, when the seventy elders of the 
Sanhedrim were called in and taught the hidden know- 
ledge. The elders finally were seated, that they might 
be present when all those among the common people who 
desired to learn came to be told those mysteries; thus the 
elect of the common people heard but once what the San- 
hedrim heard twice, the sons of Aaron three times, and 
Aaron four times repeated of the secrets that had been 
made known to Moses by the voice of the Most High. 

Of this mystical interpretation of the Scripture no 
person set down any account in writing, unless it was 
Esdras ; but some Jews doubt whether he did. Israelites 
kept the knowledge of the doctrine by a pure tradition ; 
but about fifty years after the destruction of Jerusalem, 
Akiba, a great rabbi, wrote the chief part of it in that 


book, Sepher-jezireh, or the Book of the Creation, which 
was foolishly ascribed by a few to Abraham. A disciple 
of the Rabbi Akiba was Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai, who 
wrote more of the tradition in a book called Zoar. 

The truth probably is, that the literature of cabalism, 
which is full of suggestions derived from the Neoplatonics 
of Alexandria, began with the Jews of Alexandria under 
the first Ptolemys. In the book of Simeon ben Schetach 
it went to Palestine, where it at first was little heeded; but 
after the destruction of Jerusalem it gained importance, 
and then Rabbis Akiba and Simeon ben Jochai extended 
it. It is indisputable that Aristotle had been studied by 
the writer of the Sepher-jezireh, the oldest known book 
of the Cabalists. The Cabala went afterwards with other 
learning to Spain, and that part of it at least which deals 
with Hebrew anagrams cannot be traced to a time earlier 
than the eleventh century. Many rabbis Abraham 
ben David, Saudia, Moses Botril, Moses bar Nachman, 
Eliezer of Garmiza, and others have written Hebrew 
books for the purpose of interpreting the system of the 
Cabala; but it was, perhaps, not before the eighth cen- 
tury that it had come to receive very general attention 
from the Jews. 

The Cabala consisted of two portions, the symbolical 
and the real; the symbolical Cabala being the means by 
which the doctrines of the real Cabala were elicited. 

In the Hebrew text of the Scriptures, it was said, there 
is not only an evident, but there is also a latent meaning; 
and in its latent meaning are contained the mysteries of 


God and of the universe. It need scarcely be said that 
a belief in secret wisdom has for ages been inherent in the 
Oriental mind, and in the Scriptures, it was reasoned by 
the later Jews, all wisdom must be, of necessity, contained. 
Of divine authorship, they cannot be like ordinary works 
of men. But if they were taken only in their natural sense, 
might it not be said that many human works contain 
marvels not less surprising and morality as pure. No, it 
was said, as we have entertained angels, and regarded 
them as men, so we may entertain the words of the Most 
High, if we regard only their apparent sense and not their 
spiritual mystery. And so it was that through a blind ex- 
cess of reverence the inspired writings were put to super- 
stitious use. 

The modes of examining their letters, words, and sen- 
tences, for hidden meaning, in which wholly consisted the 
symbolical Cabala, were three, and these were called Ge- 
mantria, Notaricon, Themura. 

Gemantria was arithmetical when it consisted in applying 
to the Hebrew letters of a word the sense they bore as 
numbers, letters being used also for figures in the Hebrew 
as in Greek. Then the letters in a word being taken as 
numbers and added up, it was considered that another 
word, of which the letters added up came to an equal sum, 
might fairly be substituted by the arithmetical gemantria. 
Figurative gemantria deduced mysterious interpretations 
from the shapes of letters used in sacred writing. Thus, 
in Numbers x. 35, ^ means the reversal of enemies. This 
kind of interpretation was known also by the name of 


Zurah. Architectonic geraantria constructed words from 
the numbers given by Scripture when describing the 
measurements of buildings, as the ark, or temple. 

By Notaricon more words were developed from the 
letters of a word, as if it had consisted of so many abbre- 
viations, or else first and last letters of words, or the first 
letters of successive words, were detached from their 
places and put side by side. By Themura, any word might 
be made to yield a mystery out of its anagram ; these 
sacred anagrams were known as Zeruph. By the same 
branch of the symbolical Cabala three systems were fur- 
nished, in accordance with which words might be trans- 
formed by the substitution of one letter for another. The 
first of the systems, Albam, arranged the letters of the 
alphabet in two rows, one below another; the second, 
Athbath, gave another couple of rows ; the third, Ath- 
bach, arranged them by pairs in three rows, all the pairs 
in the first row being the numerical value ten, in the 
second row a hundred, in the third a thousand; any one 
of these forms might be consulted, and any letter in a 
word exchanged for another standing either in Albam, 
Athbath, or Athbach, immediately above it or below it, 
or on the right hand of it or the left. 

This was the symbolical Cabala, and the business of it 
was to extract, by any of the means allowed, the hidden 
meaning of the Scriptures. The real Cabala was the 
doctrine in this way elicited. It was theoretical, explain- 
ing divine qualities, the ten sephiroth, the fourfold caba- 
listical worlds, the thirty-two footprints of wisdom, the 


fifty doors to prudence, Adam Kadmon, &c. ; or it was 
practical, explaining how to use such knowledge for the 
calling of spirits, the extinguishing of fires, the banning 
of disease, and so forth. 

The theoretical Cabala contained, it was said by 
Christian students, many references to the Messiah. Its 
main points were: 1. The Tree; 2. The Chariot of 
Ezekiel ; 3. The Work of Creation ; 4. The Ancient of 
Days mentioned in Daniel. It concerns us most to un- 
derstand the Tree. The Chariot of Ezekiel, or Maasseh 
Mercabah, was a description of prefigurements concerning 
ceremonial and judicial law. The doctrine of Creation, 
in the book Levischith, was a dissertation upon physics. 
The Ancient of Days treated of God and the Messiah in 
a way so mystical that cabalists generally declined to 
ascribe any meaning at all to the direct sense of the words 
employed. Of these things we need say no more, but of 
the Cabalistical Tree it will be requisite to speak in more 

It was an arrangement of the ten sephiroth. The 
word Sephiroth is derived by some rabbis from a word 
meaning to count, because they are a counting of the 
divine excellence. Otherwise it is considered an adapta- 
tion of the Greek word Sphere, because it represents the 
spheres of the universe which are successive emanations 
from the Deity. 

In the beginning was Or Haensoph, the eternal light, 
from whose brightness there descended a ray through the 
first-born of God, Adani Kadmon, and presently, depart- 


ing from its straight course, ran in a circle, and so formed 
the first of the sephiroth, which was called Kethei, or the 
crown, because superior to all the rest. Having formed 
this circle, the ray resumed its straight course till it again 
ran in a circle to produce the second of the ten sephiroth, 
Chochma, wisdom, because wisdom is the source of all. 
The same ray of divine light passed on, losing gradually, 
as it became more distant from its holy source, some of its 
power, and formed presently, in like manner, the third of 
the sephiroth, called Binah, or understanding, because 
understanding is the channel through which wisdom 
flows to things below the origin of human knowledge. 
The fourth of the sephiroth is called Gedolah or Chesed, 
greatness or goodness, because God, as being great and 
good, created all things. The fifth is Geburah, strength, 
because it is by strength that He maintains them, and be- 
cause strength is the only source of justice in the world. 
The sixth of the sephiroth, Thpereth, beauty or grace, 
unites the qualities of the preceding. The four last of 
the sephiroth are successsively named Nezach, victory; 
Hod, honour; Jesod, or Schalom, the foundation or 
peace ; and finally, Malcuth, the kingdom. Each of the 
ten has also a divine name, and their divine names, 
written in the same order, are Ejeh, Jah, Jehovah, (pro- 
nounced Elohim), Eloah, Elohim, Jehovah (pronounced 
as usual), Lord Sabaoth, Jehovah Zebaoth, Elchai (the 
living God), Adonai (the Lord). By these circles our 
world is surrounded, and, weakened in its passage through 
them, but able to bring down with it powers that are the 


character of each, divine light reaches us. These sephi- 
roth, arranged in a peculiar manner, form the Tree of the 
Cabalists ; they are also sometimes arranged in the form 
of a man, Adam Kadmon, according to the idea of the 
Neoplatonics that the figure of the world was that of a 
man's body. In accordance with another view derived 
from the same school, things in this world were supposed 
to be gross images of things above. Matter was said by 
the cabalists to have been formed by the withdrawal of 
the divine ray, by the emanation of which from the first 
source it was produced. Everything created was created 
by an emanation from the source of all, and that which 
being most distant contains least of the divine essence is 
capable of gradual purification ; so that even the evil 
spirits will in course of time become holy and pure, and 
be assimilated to the brightest of the emanations from Or 
Haensoph. God, it was said, is all in all ; everything is 
part of the divine essence, with a growing, or perceptive, 
or reflective power, one or all, and by that which has one 
all may be acquired. A stone may become a plant ; a 
plant, a beast ; a beast, a man ; a man, an angel ; an 
angel, a creator. 

This kind of belief, which was derived also from the 
Alexandrian Platonists led to that spiritual cabalism by 
which such Christians as Reuchlin and Agrippa profited. 
It connected them by a strong link with the divine 
essence, and they, feeling perhaps more distinctly than 
their neighbours that they were partakers of the divine 
nature, and might, by a striving after purity of soul and 


body, win their way to a state of spiritual happiness and 
power, cut themselves off from all communion with the 
sensuality that had become the scandal of the Church of 
Rome, and keenly perceived, as they expressed strongly, 
their sense of the degraded habits of the priests. It was 
in this way that the Christian Cabalists assisted in the 
labours of the Reformation. 

Little more has to be said about their theory, and that 
relates to the Four Cabalistical Worlds. These were placed 
in the four spaces between the upper sephiroth. Between 
the first and second was placed Aziluth, the outflowing, 
which contained the purest beings, the producers of the 
rest. Between the second and third sephiroth was the 
world Briah, or the thrones, containing spirits less pure, 
but still not material. They were classed into wheels, 
lightnings, lions, burning spirits, angels, children of God, 
cherubim. Their prince was called Metatron. The 
world in the next interspace, called Jezireh, angels, ap- 
proached more nearly to a material form ; and the fourth, 
Asiah, was made wholly material. From this point 
density increases till our world is reached. Asiah is the 
abode of the Klippoth, or material spirits striving against 
God. They travel through the air, their bodies are of 
dense air, incorruptible, and they have power to work in 
the material world. With Catoriel, Adam Belial, Esau, 
Aganiel, Usiel, Ogiel, Thomiel, Theumiel, for captains, 
they fight in two armies under their chiefs Zatniel and 
Lilith. Their enemies are the angels, who contend against 
them with two armies, led by Metatron and Sandalphon. 


Lilitli is the begetter of the powers striving against 

The nature of man's soul, said Cabalists, is threefold 
vegetative, perceptive, intellectual each embracing each. 
It emanates from the upper sephiroth, is composed of the 
pure elements for the four elements, either in their pure 
and spiritual or their gross form, enter into all things is 
expansive, separates after death, so that the parts return 
each to its own place, but reunite to praise God on the 
sabbaths and new moons. With each soul are sent into 
the world a guardian and an accusing angel. 

Now, as the creative light runs round each upper 
world before coming to ours, it comes to us charged with 
supernal influences, and such an idea lies at the foundation 
of cabalistical magic. By what secret to have power over 
this line of communication with superior worlds it is for 
practical cabalism to discover. 

The secret consisted chiefly in the use of names. God, 
it was said, gave to all things their names ; He could have 
given no name that was not mystically fit; every such 
name, therefore, is a word containing divine power, and 
especially affecting that thing, person, or spirit to which 
it belongs. The Scripture tells us that there are names 
written in heaven ; why, it was said, should they be 
written there, if they be useless. Through the knowledge 
of such divine names, it is affirmed, Moses overcame the 
sorcerers of Egypt, Elias brought fire from heaven, Daniel 
closed the mouths of lions. But of all names by which 
wonders can be wrought, the Mirific Word of Words 


(here we come to the main thought of Reuchlin's book, 
and to the central topic of the oratory of Cornelius) was 
the concealed name of God the Schem-hammaphoraseh. 
Whoever knows the true pronunciation of the name Je- 
hovah the name from which all other divine names in the 
world spring as the branches from a tree, the name that 
binds together the sephiroth whoever has that in his 
mouth has the world in his mouth. When it is spoken 
angels are stirred by the wave of sound. It rules all crea- 
tures, works all miracles, it commands all the inferior 
names of deity which are borne by the several angels that 
in heaven govern the respective nations of the earth. The 
Jews had a tradition that when David was upon the 
point of fighting with Goliath, Jaschbi, the giant's brother, 
tossed him up into the air, and held a spear below, that 
he might fall upon it. But Abishai, when he saw that, 
pronounced the holy name, and David remained in the 
air till Jaschbi's spear no longer threatened him. They 
said, also, that the Mirific name was among the secrets 
contained in the Holy of Holies, and that when any 
person having entered that shrine of the temple learnt the 
word of power, he was roared at as he came out by two 
brazen lions, or bayed by brazen dogs, until through 
terror he lost recollection of it. Some Jews accounted 
also by a fable of this nature for our Saviour's miracles. 
They said that, having been admitted within the Holy of 
Holies, and having learnt the sacred mystery, he wrote it 
down upon a tablet, cut open his thigh, and having put 
the tablet in the wound, closed the flesh over it by utter- 


ing the name of wonder. As he passed out the roaring 
lions caused the secret to pass from his mind, but after- 
wards he had only to cut out the tablet from his thigh, 
and, as the beginning of miracles, heal instantly the wound 
in his own flesh by pronouncing the Mirific Word. Such 
Jewish details were, of course, rejected by the Christian?, 
who accepted the essential principles of the Cabala. 

As the name of all power was the hidden name of 
God, so there were also names of power great, though 
limited, belonging to the angels and the evil spirits. To 
discover the names of the spirits, by applying to the 
Hebrew text of Scripture the symbolical Cabala, was to 
acquire some of the power they possessed. Thus, it being 
said of the Sodomites that they were struck with blind- 
ness, the Hebrew word for blindness was translated into 
Chaldee, and the Chaldee word by one of the symbolical 
processes was made to yield the name of a bad angel, 
Schabriri, which, being written down, was employed as a 
charm to cure ophthalmia. A common mode of conjura- 
tion with these names of power was by the use of amulets, 
pieces of paper or parchment on which, for certain pur- 
poses, certain names were written. At his first entrance 
into the world such an amulet, with the names " Senoi, 
Sansenoi, Semongeloph," upon it, was slipped round the 
neck of the new-born child, so that the infant scarcely 
saw the light before it was collared by the genius of 

Another mode of conjuration consisted in the use, not 
of names, but of the Psalms of David. Whole volumes 


were written upon this use of the Psalms. The first of 
them, written on doeskin, was supposed to help the birth 
of children ; others could, it was thought, be so written as 
to make those who carried them invisible ; others secured 
favour from princes ; others extinguished fires. The 
transcription of a psalm for any such purpose was no 
trifling work, because, apart from the necessary care in 
the formation of letters, some having a mystical reason for 
being larger than others, it was necessary for the copyist, 
as soon as he had written down one line, to plunge into a 
bath. Moreover, that the charm might be the work of a 
pure man, before beginning every new line of his manu- 
script, it was thought necessary that he should repeat the 

Such were the mysteries of the Hebrew Cabala, 
strangely blending a not unrefined philosophy with basest 
superstition. It remains for us to form some just opinion 
of the charm they had for many Christian scholars in the 
first years of the sixteenth century. Reuchlin, or Capnio, 
was of such scholars the leader and the type ; as such, in- 
deed, he was accepted by the young Cornelius Agrippa. 
He was the greatest Hebrew scholar of his day, and had 
become so by his own natural bent. Born at Pfortzheim, 
of the poorest parents, two-and-thirty years before Agrippa 
came into the world, taught Latin at the town-school, 
and winning in his youth a ducal patron by his tunable 
voice as chorister in the court chapel at Baden, by his 
quick wit, and his serene, lively, amiable temper, he never 
afterwards lacked powerful assistance. 

VOL. I. G 


The life of Reuchlin 1 is the story of the origin of 
Greek and Hebrew studies among learned Europeans. 
He was sent with the Margrave's son, afterwards Bishop 
of Utrecht, to Paris. The fall of Constantinople, in 1453, 
had caused fugitive Greeks to betake themselves to many 
European cities, where they sometimes gave instruction in 
their language. Reuchlin, at Paris, learned Greek from a 
Spartan, who gave him instruction also in caligraphy, and 
made him so clever a workman with his pen, that he could 
eke out his means and buy books with money earned as a 
Greek copyist. He studied Aristotle with the Spartan. 
Old John Wessel, of Groningen, a disciple of Thomas a 
Kempis, taught him Hebrew, and invited him to a direct 
study of the Bible. At the age of twenty he was en- 
gaged by publishers to write a Latin dictionary, which 
he called Breviloquus. At the age of twenty he taught 
Greek publicly, laying his main stress on a study of the 
grammar ; the good sense he spoke emptied the benches 
of the sophisters around him, and produced complaints 
from old-fashioned professors. It was then urged that all 
the views disclosed in Greek books were essentially op- 
posed to the spirit and belief of Rome. The monks had 
no commerce with the language; and when they came to 
a Greek quotation in a book that they were copying, 
were used to inscribe the formula " Graeca suntj non le- 
guntur." Reuchlin maintained his ground, at twenty- 

1 This sketch is drawn chiefly from Mayerhoff, with reference also to 
Jteuchlin's Leben und die, Denkwiirdigkeiten seiner Vaterstadt, von Siegm. 
Fr. Gehres, Carlsruhe, 1815, where the citation is not direct from Keuch- 
lin's works. Mr. Barham's book has also been before me. 


five wrote a Greek grammar, lectured at Poictiers, and 
was made licentiate of civil law. His notion of law 
studies was expressed in a formula that has been applied 
in other terms to other things : In his first year the young 
lawyer knows how to decide all causes, in the second be- 
gins to be uncertain, in the third acknowledges that he 
knows nothing, and then first begins to learn. In the 
last of these stages of progress the licentiate of Poictiers 
repaired to Tubingen, and practised as an advocate with 
such success that he made money and married. At Tu- 
bingen, Reuchlin won the confidence of Eberhard of the 
Beard, became his private secretary and one of his privy- 
councillors, and went with him to Rome in 1482, his age 
then being eight-and-twenty. At Rome he distinguished 
himself as an orator before the Pope, and was considered 
to speak Latin wonderfully well for a German. After 
his return to Germany, John Reuchlin remained with 
Eberhard in Stuttgard, became assessor of the Supreme 
Court at the age of thirty, and a year afterwards was 
elected proctor for the body of the Dominicans through- 
out all Germany, which unpaid office he held for nearly 
thirty years. At the age of thirty-one he received at 
Tubingen his doctorate, and in the year following, that is 
to say, in the year of Cornelius Agrippa's birth, he was 
sent with two others to Frankfort, Cologne, and Aix-la- 
Chapelle, on the occasion of the coronation of Maximilian 
as Roman emperor. Then it was that Maximilian first 
became acquainted with him. Reuchlin had then a house 
at Stuttgard, and was known as a great cultivator of the 


learned languages, while he was also high in the favour of 
his own prince, and in constant request as a practitioner 
of law. In 1490 he was sent to Rome on another mission, 
and on his way through Florence enjoyed personal inter- 
course with Giovanni Pico di Mirandola, the scholar who, 
although a determined antagonist to the astrologers, was 
a great friend to cabalism and the introducer of the 
cabalistic mysteries into the favour of Italian scholars. 
By him Reuchlin was further stimulated to the love of 
Hebrew lore. When, two years afterwards, Reuchlin 
was at Linz on state business with the Emperor Frede- 
ric III., it was something, indeed, that the base-born 
scholar was raised to the dignity of count palatine, but it 
was more to Reuchlin that the court physician was a 
learned Jew, Jehiel Loans, who perfected his intimacy 
with the Hebrew. His aim then was, above all thing?, 
first to study the original text of the Old Testament, and 
secondly to read the writings of the Cabalists. The 
emperor, whose life was then about to close (he died 
while Reuchlin was at Linz), saw here another way of 
gratifying the agreeable and kindly scholar, for he not 
only made Reuchlin a count palatine (his arms were a 
golden altar, from which smoke arose, with the inscrip- 
tion " Ara Capnionis"), but he also presented to him a 
very ancient Hebrew Bible, written carefully on parch- 
ment, a treasure then worth three hundred gold crowns, 
which is to be seen still in the library of the Grand Duke 
of Carlsruhe, where it is regarded as the oldest of its kind 
in Europe. With the knowledge imparted by Jehiel 


Loans, and the actual text in which all mysteries lay 
hidden, Reuchlin went home enriched as much as he had 
been ennobled. Hebrew writing was at that time very 
rare, and was to be met with chiefly in the hands of 
Jews. At Hebrew Reuchlin laboured, collecting He- 
brew books and works expounding the Cabala, whenever 
possible ; and eventually he gave life in Germany, as 
Giovanni Pico di Mirandola was giving life in Italy, 
to the cabalistical philosophy, the great impulse to this 
German revival being the publication of the book on the 
Mirific Word. It first appeared at Basle, in the year 
1495, the author's age then being forty-one. It was not 
published at Tubingen till 1514. The book was regarded 
as a miracle of heavenly wisdom. Philip Beroaldus told 
of the Pope's enjoyment, and wrote word also to its 
author that he had caused not only men of letters, but 
even statesmen and warriors, to betake themselves to 
studying the mysteries of the Cabala. 

The death of Reuchlin's patron, Eberhard the elder, 
soon after his elevation to the rank of duke in 1495, was 
followed by a period of misrule in the little state. One 
of the first acts of Eberhard the younger was to release 
his favourite, a dissolute priest, named Holzinger, from 
the prison in which he had been kept by the good counsel 
of Reuchlin; and for the further discomfiture of the 
scholar this man was appointed chancellor over the uni- 
versity of Tubingen. Reuchlin of course resigned. He 
had been long wanted at Heidelberg, and went there to 
be cherished by a new patron in the Elector Palatine. 


He showed, as usual, his lively energy by the establish- 
ment of a Greek chair, which the monks pronounced upon 
the spot to be a heresy ; and by venting his wrath against 
Holzinger in a Latin comedy, denouncing dissolute priests, 
which he called Sergius, or the Head of the Head. It 
was written to be acted by the students. A Latin comedy 
was then a rare thing in the land ; and the news that John 
Reuchlin had written one was noised abroad. Prudent 
friends' counselled him to beware of such unscrupulous and 
powerful enemies as he would make if he attacked abuses 
of the priesthood; he submitted to advice, and as he was 
notoriously answerable for a comedy, and gossip must be 
satisfied, he suddenly composed a substitute for that first 
written. When, therefore, the day of the performance 
came, it was found that the Greek professor had composed 
a comedy against abuses in his own profession; it was a 
castigation of dishonest advocates. Scenica Progymnas- 
tica the piece was called. 

After two years of misrule Eberhard the younger took 
its consequences; he was then deposed, and Holzinger, 
the monk, sent back to prison. " When the bricks are 
doubled, Moses comes," said Reuchlin, and returned to 
his old post at Tubingen. Hitherto his life of study had 
not been unprofitable, nor, much benefit as he received 
through patronage, was it a life wanting independence. 
"Whatever," he says 1 , "I spent in learning, I acquired 
by teaching 1 ." 

1 " Nam universam stipem quam discendo impend!, docendo acquisivi." 
Preface to the De Rudiinentis Hebraicis. 



An anecdote of this good-humoured scholar may be 
here interpolated, which displays his character in half a 
dozen points of view. He was detained once in an inn 
when it was raining very heavily, and of course had his 
book with him. The rain had driven into the common 
room a large number of country-people, who were making 
a great noise. To quiet them Reuchlin called for a piece 
of chalk, and drew with it a circle on the table before 
which he sat. Within the circle he then drew a cross, 
and also within it, on the right side of the cross, he 
placed with great solemnity a cup of water, on the left he 
stuck a knife upright. Then placing a book doubtless a 
Hebrew one within the mysterious circle, he began to 
read, and the rustics who had gathered round him, with 
their mouths agape, patiently waited for the consequence 
of all this conjuration. The result was that Reuchlin 
finished comfortably the chapter he was reading without 
being distressed even by a whisper of disturbance. 

In the year 1502 Reuchlin was elected to the post of 
general judge of alliance under the terms of the Suabian 
league. His office was to adjudicate in all matters of 
dispute among confederates and vassals, concerning the 
interests of the emperor as Archduke of Austria, the 
electors and princes. There was a second judge for 
prelates, counts, and nobles, a third for imperial cities. 
This post he held during eleven years ; he was holding it, 
therefore, at the time when the young Cornelius Agrippa 
undertook to comment publicly at Dole upon his book 
concerning the Mirific Word, Reuchlin then being fifty- 


five years old, and at the summit of his fame, high, also, 
in the good esteem of Maximilian. Three years before 
this date, notwithstanding the great mass of legal business 
entailed on him by his judicial office, Reuchlin had, to 
the great help of all students, published a volume of the 
Rudiments of Hebrew, which included both a grammar 
and a dictionary 1 . This book, he wrote, " cost me the 
greatest trouble, and a large part of my fortune 2 ." Cor- 
nelius no doubt had learnt his Hebrew by the help of 
it, and was already deep in studies -which a few years 
afterwards brought the monks of Cologne into array 
against Reuchlin himself, their hostility somewhat embit- 
tered by an inkling of the Latin comedy that was not to be 
quite suppressed. Cornelius, however, was the first to feel 
the power of such enemies. By the Epistolas Obscurorum 
Virorum the monks were destined to come off much 
worsted from their battle against Reuchlin and the scholars 
who defended his fair fame. Of their fortune in the battle 
fought against Cornelius Agrippa it is one part of this his- 
tory to tell. 

Reuchlin wrote at a later period (1517) a book upon 
the cabalistic art. If it is written God created heaven 

1 The volume in three books, De Rudimentis Hebratcis, was printed by 
Thomas Anshelm, of Pfortzheim, in a handsome quarto of 620 pages." The 
prefatory address, " Ad Dionysium Fratrem suum germanum," contains a 
brief autobiographical sketch. Though the book is written in Latin, in- 
terspersed with Hebrew letters and words as they are discussed, the paging 
is inverted, so that the volume begins at the end, in Hebrew style. The 
last words are " Exegi monumentum sere perennius nonis Martiis Anno 

2 J. Reuchlin, Phorc. LL. Dr. in Septem Psalmos Pasnitentiales Hebraicos 
Interpretatio, &c., in preface. 


and earth, he interpreted that to mean spirit and matter, 
the spirit consisting of the angels and ministers by whom 
the ways of man are influenced. Magic, he said, dealt 
with evil spirits, but the true Cabala only with the 
good. He believed in astrology; and so, indeed, did 
Luther and Melancthon ; Giovanni Pico di Mirandola at 
Florence, while adopting the Cabala, was very singular in 
his hostility to a belief in influences of the stars. His own 
faith in cabalism Reuchlin enforced thus: God, out of love 
to his people, has revealed the hidden mysteries to some 
of them, and these could find in the dead letters the living 
spirit. For Scripture consists of single letters, visible 
signs, which stand in a certain connexion with the angels, 
as celestial and spiritual emanations from God. By the 
pronunciation of the one, the others also are affected ; but 
with a true Cabalist, who penetrates the whole connexion 
of the earthly with the heavenly, these signs, rightly 
placed in connexion with each other, are a way of putting 
him into immediate union with the spirits, who through 
that are bound to satisfy his wishes 1 . 

In his book called Capnio, or the Mirific Word, ex- 
pounded at Dole by Cornelius Agrippa, Reuchlin placed 
the Christian system in the centre of old heathen philoso- 
phies, considering many of the doctrines of Pythagoras 
and Plato as having been taken from, not introduced into, 
the wisdom of the Cabalists. The argument is stated in 
the form of dialogue, which is immediately preceded by a 
summary of its intention that may very well suffice 

1 This passage is quoted through Mayerhoff, loc. cit., p. 100. 


here for a summary of its contents 1 : " Receive, then, in 
this book the argument on the Mirific Word of three 
philosophers, whom I have feigned to be holding such 
dispute among themselves as the controversies proper to 
their sects would occasion, as to the best elucidation of 
the hidden properties of sacred names. Out of which, 
great as they are in number and importance, occasion will 
at last be the more easily afforded for selecting one name 
that is above all names supremely mirific and beatific. 
And thus you may know the whole matter in brief. 
Sidonius, at first ascribed to' the school of Epicurus, but 
found afterwards, nullius jurare in verba magistri^ an un- 
fettered philosopher, travels about to satisfy his thirst for 
knowledge, and after many experiences enters Suabia, 
where he meets in the town of Pfortzheim" (Reuchlin's 
birthplace) "two philosophers Baruch, a Jew, and 
Capnio" (Reuchlin himself), " a Christian, with whom he 
disserts upon many systems, and presently upon the know- 
ledge itself of divine and human things, upon opinion, 
faith, miracles, the powers of words and figures, secret 
operations, and the mysteries of seals. In this way question 
arises concerning the sacred names and consecrated cha- 
racters of all nations which have anything excellent in 
their philosophy, or not unworthy in their ceremonies ; an 
enumeration of symbols is made by each speaker zealously 
on behalf of the rites cherished in his sect, until at last 

1 Johannis Reuchlin, Phorcen. LL. Doctoris de Verio Mirifid. Libri Tres. 
Ed. Colonise, 1532, fol. A iiii. 


Capnio, in the third book, collects out of all that is holy 
one name, Jehosua, in which is gathered up the virtue and 
power of all sacred things, and which is eternally, su- 
premely blessed." 

Here was a vast theme for the oratory of a youth of 
twenty-three, and it was one also that enabled him to dis- 
play the whole range of his learning. The newly recovered 
treasures of Greek literature ; the study of Plato, that had 
lately been revived by Marsilius Ficinus in Italy ; the study 
of Aristotle, urged and helped in France by Faber Stapu- 
lensis (d'Etaples), appeared to bring the fullest confirma- 
tion of the principles of the Cabala to men ignorant, as all 
were then, of the Greek source of more than half the later 
mysticism of the Hebrews, which attributed to itself an 
origin so ancient. That he had acquired so early in his 
life Hebrew and Greek lore, that he was deeply read in 
studies which were admired from afar only by so many 
scholars of his day, and, thus prepared, that he discussed 
mysteries about which men in all ages feel instinctive 
curiosity, and men in that age reasoned eagerly, would 
alone account sufficiently for the attention paid to the 
young German by the university of Dole. Moreover, 
while fulfilling his own private purpose, he appealed also 
to the loyalty of the Burgundians, by delivering his 
orations to all comers gratuitously, for the honour of the 
Princess Margaret, their ruler, and opening them with 
her panegyric. The young orator being also remarkable 
for an effective manner of delivery, the grave and learned 


men who came to his prelections honoured him by diligent 
attendance. 1 The exposition was made from the pulpit of 
the gymnasium, before the parliament and magistracy of 
Dole, the professors and the readers of the university. 
Simon Vernet, vice-chancellor of the university, dean of 
the church, and doctor in each faculty, was not once 
absent. The worthy vice-chancellor, or dean, appears, 
indeed, to have taken an especial interest in the fame of 
their visitor. He had himself a taste for public declama- 
tion, and to a friend who was urging on Cornelius that he 
should seek durable fame rather by written than by spoken 
words, expressed a contrary desire on his behalf. He pre- 
ferred orator to author 2 . When Cornelius had complied 
with the request of another friend, who wished to translate 
into the vernacular his panegyric upon Margaret, praising 
his oratory for the perfect fitness of each word employed 
in it, and its complete freedom from verbiage, and desiring 
that through a translation the illustrious princess might 
be informed how famously Cornelius had spoken in her 
honour, and so be the more disposed to reward him with 
her favour, the translation came back with a note, saying 
that the vice-chancellor had been its censor and corrector 3 . 
Vernet was diligent, in fact, on the young scholar's behalf, 
and his interests were seconded by the Archbishop of 
Besangon. Not a syllable was whispered about heresy. 
The friend who urged Cornelius, in spite of the dean's 

1 Libellus De Nobilitate et Prcec. Fcem. Sex. in preface. The same autho- 
rity covers the next fact or two. 
* Ep. 18. Lib. i. p. 698. 3 Ep. 16. Lib. i. p. 697. 


contrary counsel, to become an author, gave a familiar 
example from his own experience of the vanity of spoken 
words. He had declaimed publicly from memory, and 
without one hitch, upwards of two thousand two hundred 
verses of his own composition, yet, because they were not 
printed, earned only a temporary local fame. Of the value 
of the written word evidence very soon afterwards was 
enclosed to Cornelius by that other friend who had trans- 
lated his oration. Zealous to do good service, he had 
caused a copy of the panegyric to proceed, by way of 
Lyons, on the road to royal notice, and delighted the 
aspirant after patronage by enclosing to him flatteries from 
John Perreal, a royal chamberlain 1 , probably the same 
learned Frenchman who became known twenty or more 
years later as Johannis Perellus, translated into Latin Gaza 
on the Attic Months, and wrote a book about the Epacts 
of the Moon. 

To the youth flushed with triumph as a scholar there 
came also reminders of the military life he was so ready to 
forsake. A correspondent sent him news of a defeat of the 
Venetians by the French, near Agnadello, the first fruits 
of the discreditable league of Cambray. The French, 
it will be remembered, won this victory while Maximilian, 
their new ally, was still perplexed by the dissatisfaction of 
his subjects evidenced during the late diet at Worms. 
Agrippa's friend wished to have in return for his news 
any knowledge that his relation to the emperor might 

1 Ep. 18. Lib. i. p. 698. 


give him of intentions that might be disclosed at an 
approaching diet 1 . His real intentions were to break a 
pledge by marching against the Venetians ; his fate, to 
retire ere long, defeated, from before the walls of Padua. 
He was renewing with his enemy, the King of France, the 
treaty of Cambray, and sending a messenger to Spire to 
burn the book in which he had recorded all the injuries 
and insults suffered by his family, or empire, at the hands 
of France. Cornelius cared little for France or Padua ; 
his hopes as a scholar were with Margaret at Ghent, 
though she, too, being another member of the league, 
could have employed him as a soldier. Other hopes, as 
a man, he was directing towards a younger and a fairer 
mistress. He desired not only to prosper but to marry. 

The little university of Dole favoured the young man 
heartily. His prelections had excited great attention, and 
procured for him the admiration of the neighbourhood. 
From the university they won for him at once the degree of 
doctor in divinity, together with a stipend 2 . 

1 Ep. 19. Lib. i. p. 699. 

- Defensio Propositionum de Beatce Anna Monogamid, &c. Op. Tom. ii. 
p. 596. 




ANGLING for private patronage was in the sixteenth 
century correlative to the habit not very uncommon in 
these days of using baits to catch the public favour. Men 
who once lived by the help of princes now owe their 
support to the whole people, and the pains bestowed upon 
a cultivation of the good-will of the people in these days 
are neither less nor more to be reprehended than the 
pains taken by scholars of past time to procure a safe 
means of subsistence through the good-will of a prince. It 
may be said, with a fair approximation to the truth, that 
as much as a man may do now with the intention of de- 
serving popularity, and not discredit himself in his own 
eyes or those of the great number of his neighbours, he 
might have done with as little discredit in the sixteenth 
century with the design of earning favour from the great. 
We have seen how, in the case of Reuchlin, a poor cho- 
rister was fostered at first by small princes of Germany, 
afterwards even by the emperor, and enabled to develop 
into a great Hebrew scholar, when one patron died having 


another ready to befriend him, and enjoying dignity and 
wealth with a complete sense of independence. That age 
was, in fact, as far removed as this is from the transition 
period, during which the patronage of letters by the great, 
extinct as a necessity, survived as a tradition, and the 
system that had once been vigorous and noble became 
imbecile and base. 

Nobody at Dole was ignorant that the design of Cor- 
nelius Agrippa was to earn the patronage of Margaret, 
a liberal encourager of learning. Nobody considered it 
dishonourable to seek this by showing that it was de- 
served. The prevalent feeling was so far removed from any 
such impression, that from many quarters the young man 
was urged to magnify his claim on Mai-garet's attention 
by devoting not only the orations, but also some piece of 
writing to her honour. Even the cordial vice-chancellor, 
desirous to advance the interests of the young orator, set 
aside his predilection for the" spoken word, and was among 
the foremost in admonishing Cornelius to write. Not slow 
to profit by advice that ran the same course with his incli- 
nations, the new Doctor of Divinity set himself to display 
his powers as a theologian in the true manner of the day, 
and with theological acuteness to combine a courtier's 
tact, by dedicating to the most conspicuous example of 
his argument a treatise on the Nobility and Pre-excel- 
lence of the Female Sex. As I have hinted, too, there 
was a private example of it known to his own heart. 

Before following him into this new field of study, there 
is a private letter to be read a letter of recommendation 


sent from a friend of Cornelius at Chalon, one of the 
mystical brethren perhaps, by a servant of the person re- 
commended l . 

" The bearer of these is the page of a certain nobleman 
in Chalon, sent to fetch you hither, because his master is 
in want of help and counsel: he is rich, and does not 
spare his money. I have warned you of this for your 
gain's sake : but just attend to what counsel I wish to 
give you on this subject, for I desire to promote equally 
your honour and profit. If, then, you can come hand- 
somely dressed, so come, it will bring you trust and 
advantage " (perhaps the young scholar was a little negli- 
gent of his attire), " for you are not ignorant how much 
respect and confidence is put on, if I may say so, with a 
comely garment, especially in the opinion of those pur- 
blind people who see only outsides of men. And if you 
come directly you are wanted it will be much to your 
hurt : therefore dissemble if you can, make excuses, put 
off your coming to another time : meanwhile I will pro- 
mote your interests. But if this nobleman, more greedy 
to have you, goes to Dole for you himself, mind this, that 
though you may know everything, be able to do every- 
thing, do nothing, promise nothing, unless after re- 
iterated urging. Only let yourself be forced to receive 
favours. Even if you are in want of anything, dissemble 
the want. The man grows warm, and when the iron 
glows is the right time for striking. Understand these 
matters secretly, the affair is yours, the counsel yours ; you 
1 Ep. 20. Lib. i. p. 699. 

VOL. I. H 


hold the reins of your own fortune. I will not be wanting 
to you with my help as the occasion serves. Farewell." 

Angling for patronage shown from another point of 
view! mean arts used by mean spirits to compel the 
favour of the rich and base. But to secure the favour of 
the rich and noble the arts used were not to be accounted 

Now let us trace in a brief summary the argument for 
the Nobility of the Female Sex and the Superiority of 
Woman over Man, written at Dole, in the year 1509, by 
a Doctor of Divinity, aged twenty-three l . He sets out 
with the declaration that when man was created male and 
female, difference was made in the flesh, not in the soul. 
He quotes Scripture to show that after the corruption of 
our bodies difference of sex will disappear, and that we 
shall all be like angels in the resurrection. As to soul, 
then, man and woman are alike ; but as to everything 
else the woman is the better part of the creation. 

In the first place, woman being made better than man, 
received the better name. Man was called Adam, which 
means Earth ; woman Eva, which is by interpretation 
Life. By as much as life excels earth woman there- 
fore excels man. And this, it is urged, must not be 
thought trivial reasoning, because the Maker of those 
creatures knew what they were before He named them, 

1 Henrici Cornelii Agrippw de Nobilitate et Prcecellentia Foeminei Sexus, ad 
Margaretam Augustam Austriacorum et Burgundionwm Principem, &c. &c. 
An. M.D.XXXII. Mense Maio. The outline is made from this, the first, 
edition. The publication of the work was delayed for reasons that -will 
afterwards appear. 


and was One who could not err in properly describing 
each. We know, and the Roman laws testify, that 
ancient names were always consonant with the things 
they represented, and names have been held always to 
be of great moment by theologians and jurisconsults. 
It is written thus of Nabal : " As his name is, so is he ; 
Nabal is his name, and folly is with him." (1 Samuel, 
xxv. 25.) Saint Paul, also, in his Epistle to the He- 
brews, speaks of his Lord and Master, as " made so much 
better than the .angels, as he hath obtained a more 
excellent name than they." (Heb. i. 4.) The reader's 
memory will at once supply the next passage of Scripture 
quoted, I do not like to cite it. Agrippa then dilates, as 
well he may, on the immense importance of words, 
according to the practice of all jurists ; he tells how 
Cyprian argued against the Jews that Adam's name was 
derived from the initials of the Greek words meaning 
east, west, north, and south : dvaroXfj, Svat?, apKTis, /leo-i/ijS/nos, 
because his flesh was made out of the earth, though that 
derivation was at variance with Moses, who put only three 
letters in the Hebrew name. For this, however, adds 
Agrippa, Cyprian was not to blame, since, like many 
saints and expounders of the sacred text, he had not learnt 
the Hebrew language. 

Upon the word Eva it is further maintained that it 
suggests comparison with the mystic symbols of the Ca- 
balists, the name of the woman having affinity with the 
ineffable Tetragrammaton, the most sacred name of the 
Divinity ; while that of the man differed entirely from it. 


All these considerations, however, Agrippa consents to 
pass over, as matters read by few and understood by 
fewer. The pre-eminence of the woman can be proved 
out of her constitution, her gifts, and her merits. 

The nature of woman is discussed, however, from the 
theologian's point of view. Things were created in the 
order of their rank. First, indeed, incorruptible soul, 
then incorruptible matter, but afterwards, out of that 
matter, more or less corruptible things, beginning with the 
meanest. First minerals, then herbs, and shrubs and trees, 
then zoophytes, then brutes in their order, reptiles first, 
afterwards fishes, birds, quadrupeds. Lastly, two human 
beings, but of these first the male, and finally the female, 
in which the heavens and the earth and their whole 
adornment were perfected. The divine rest followed, 
because the work was consummated, nothing greater was 
conceived ; the woman was thus left the most perfect and 
the noblest of the creatures upon earth, as a queen placed 
in the court that had been previously prepared for her. 
Rightly, therefore, do all beings round about her pay to 
this queen homage of reverence and love. 

The difference between the woman and the man is yet 
more strongly marked, says the deeply read theologian, 
because the man was made like the brutes in open land 
outside the gates of paradise, and made wholly of clay, 
but the woman was made afterwards in paradise itself; 
she was the one paradisaical creation. Presently there 
follow Scripture arguments to show that the place of their 
birth was a sign to men of honour or dishonour. The 


woman, too, was not made of clay, but from an influx 
of celestial matter ; since there went into her composition 
nothing terrestrial except only one of Adam's ribs, and 
that was not gross clay, but clay that had been already 
purified and kindled with the breath of life. 

The theological demonstrations Cornelius next confirms 
by the evidence of some natural facts equally cogent and 
trustworthy, which were held in that day by many wise 
men to be equally true. It is because she is made of 
purer matter that -a woman, from whatever height she 
may look down, never turns giddy, and her eyes never 
have mist before them like the eyes of men. Moreover, 
if a woman and man tumble together into water, far away 
from all external help, the woman floats long upon the 
surface, but the man soon sinks to the bottom. Is there 
not also the divine light shining through the body of the 
woman, by which she is made often to seem a miracle of 
beauty. Then follows a clever inventory of all a woman's 
charms of person, written with due reserve, which might 
be here translated, if the English language had the terse- 
ness of the Latin. In short, woman is the sum of all 
earth's beauty, and it is proved that her beauty has some- 
times inspired even angels and demons with a desperate 
and fatal love. Then follows a chain of Scripture texts 
honouring female beauty, which all lead up to the twenty 
thousand virgins, solemnly celebrated by the church, and 
the admiration of the beauty of the Virgin Mary by the 
sun and moon. 

Texts follow that must be omitted, and then the argu- 


ment takes anatomical grounds of the most ingenious 
character, and hows how every difference of structure 
between the man and the woman gives to woman the 
advantage due to her superior delicacy. Even after death 
nature respects her inherent modesty, for a drowned 
woman floats on her face, and a drowned man upon his 
back. The noblest part of a human being is the head; 
but the man's head is liable to baldness, woman is never 
seen bald. The man's face is often made so filthy by a 
most odious beard, and so covered with sordid hairs, that 
it is scarcely to be distinguished from the face of a wild 
beast; in women, on the other hand, the face always re- 
mains pure and decent. For this reason women were, by 
the laws of the twelve tables, forbidden to rub their 
cheeks lest hair should grow and obscure their blushing 
modesty. But the most evident proof of the innate 
purity of the female sex is, that a woman having once 
washed is clean, and if she wash in second water will not 
soil it ; but that a man is never clean, though he should 
wash in ten successive waters, he will cloud and infect 
them all. 

Some other marvellous peculiarities I must omit, and 
pass to Agrippa's appreciation of the woman's predomi- 
nance in the possession of the gift of speech, the most ex- 
cellent of human faculties, which Hermes Trismegistus 
thought equal to immortality in value, and Hesiod pro- 
nounced the best of human treasures. Man, too, receives 
this gift from woman, from his mother or his nurse ; and 
it is a gift bestowed upon woman herself with such libe- 


rality that the world has scarcely seen a woman who was 
mute. Is it not fit that women should excel men in that 
faculty, wherein men themselves chiefly excel the brutes? 

The argument again becomes an edifice of Scripture 
text, and it is well to show the nature of it, though we 
may shrink from the misuse of sacred words, because it is 
well thoroughly to understand how Scripture was habitu- 
ally used by professed theologians in the sixteenth cen- 
tury, and from this light example to derive a grave lesson, 
perhaps, that may be, even to the people of the nineteenth 
century, not wholly useless. 

Solomon's texts on the surpassing excellence of a good 
woman of course are cited, and a cabalistic hint is given 
of the efficacy of the letter H, which Abram took away 
from his wife Sarah, and put into the middle of his own 
name, after he had been blessed through her. Benedic- 
tion has come always by woman, law by man. We have 
all sinned in Adam, not in Eve; original sin we inherit 
only from the father of our race. The fruit of the tree 
of knowledge was forbidden to man only, before woman 
was made; woman received no injunction, she was created 
free. She was not blamed, therefore, for eating, but for 
causing sin in her husband by giving him to eat; and she 
did that not of her own will, but because the devil tempted 
her. He chose her as the object of temptation, as St. 
Bernard says, because he saw with envy that she was the 
most perfect of creatures. She erred in ignorance because 
she was deceived ; the man sinned knowingly. Therefore 
our Lord made atonement in the figure of the sex that had 


sinned, and also for more complete humiliation came in 
the form of a man, not that of a woman, which is nobler 
and sublimer. He humbled himself as man, but overcame 
as a descendant of the woman ; for the seed of the woman, 
it was said, not the seed of man, should bruise the serpent's 
head. He would not, therefore, be born of a man ; woman 
alone was judged worthy to be the earthly parent of the 
Deity. Risen again, he appeared first to women. Men 
forsook him, women never. No persecution, heresy, or 
error in the Church ever began with the female sex. They 
were men who betrayed, sold, bought, accused, condemned, 
mocked, crucified the Lord. Peter denied him, his dis- 
ciples left him. "Women were at the foot of the cross, 
women were at the sepulchre. Even Pilate's wife, who 
was a heathen, made more effort to save Jesus than any 
man among believers. Finally, do not almost all theolo- 
gians assert that the Church is maintained by the Virgin 

Aristotle may say that of all animals the males are 
stronger and wiser than the females, but St. Paul writes 
that weak things have been chosen to confound the strong. 
Adam was sublimely endowed, but woman humbled him ; 
Samson was strong, but woman made him captive; Lot 
was chaste, but woman seduced him ; David was religious, 
but woman disturbed his piety; Solomon was wise, but 
woman deceived him ; Job was patient, and was robbed 
by the devil of fortune and family; ulcerated, grieved, 
oppressed, nothing provoked him to anger till a woman 
did it, therein proving herself stronger than the devil. 


Peter was fervent in faith, but woman forced him to deny 
his lord. Somebody may remark that all these illustra- 
tions tend to woman's shame, not to her glory, Woman, 
however, may reply to man as Innocent III. wrote to some 
cardinal, " If one of us is to be confounded, I prefer that 
it be you." Civil law allows a woman to consult her own 
gain to another's hurt; and does not Scripture itself often 
extol and bless the evil deeds of the woman more than the 
good deeds of the man. Is not Rachel praised who de- 
ceived her father? JRebecca, because she obtained fraudu- 
lently Jacob's benediction? Is not the deceit of Rahab 
imputed to her as justice? Was not Jael blessed among 
women for a treacherous and cruel deed? What could 
be more iniquitous than the counsel of Judith ? what more 
cruel than her wiles? what worse than her perfidy? Yet 
for this she is blessed, lauded, and extolled in Scripture, 
and the woman's iniquity is reputed better than the 
goodness of the man. Was not Cain's a good work when 
he oifered his best fruits in sacrifice and was reproved for 
it? Did not Esau well when he hunted to get venison 
for his old father, and in the mean time was defrauded of 
his birthright, and incurred the divine hate? Other 
examples are adduced, and robust scholars, ingenious 
theologians, are defied to find an equal amount of evidence 
in support of the contrary thesis, that the iniquity of the 
man is better than the goodness of the woman. Such a 
thesis, says Agrippa, could not be defended. 

From this point to the end Agrippa's treatise consists 
of a mass of illustrations from profane and Scripture 


history, classified roughly. Some are from natural history. 
The queen of all birds, he says, is the eagle, always of the 
female sex, for no male eagles have been found. The 
phoenix is a female always. On the other hand, the most 
pestilent of serpents, called the basilisk, exists only as a 
male ; it is impossible for it to hatch a female. 

All evil things began with men, and few or none with 
women. We die in the seed of Adam and live in the 
seed of Eve. The beginning of envy, the first homicide, 
the first parricide, the first despair of divine mercy was 
with man ; Lamech was the first bigamist, Noah was the 
first drunkard, Nimrod the first tyrant, and so forth. Men 
were the first to league themselves with demons and dis- 
cover profane hearts. Men have been incontinent, and 
had, in innumerable instances, to each man many wives at 
once ; but women have been continent, each content with 
a single husband, except only Bathsheba. Many women 
are then cited as illustrations of their sex in this respect, 
or for their filial piety, including Abigail, Lucretia, Cato's 
wife, and the mother of the Gracchi, the vestal Claudia, 
Iphigenia. If any one opposes to such women the wives 
of Zoilus, Samson, Jason, Deiphobus, and Agamemnon, 
it may be answered that these have been unj ustly accused, 
that no good man ever had a bad wife. Only bad hus- 
bands get bad wives, or if they get a good one, are some- 
times able to corrupt her excellence. If women made the 
laws, and wrote the histories and tragedies, could they 
not j ustly crowd them with testimony to the wickedness 
of men. Our prisons are full of men, and slain men 


cumber the earth everywhere, but women are the be- 
ginners of all liberal arts, of virtue, and beneficence. 
Therefore the arts and virtues commonly have feminine 
names. Even the corners of the world receive their 
names from women : the nymph Asia ; Europa, the 
daughter of Agenior ; Lybia, the daughter of Epaphus, 
who is called also Aphrica. 

Illustrations follow of the pre-eminence of women in 
good gifts, and it is urged that Abraham, who by his 
faith was accounted just, was placed in subjection to 
Sarah his wife, and was told, " In all that Sarah hath said 
unto thee, hearken unto her voice." (Gen. xxi. 12.) 

There follows a host of other illustrations of the excel- 
lence of woman, drawn from all sources ; among others, 
illustrations of her eminence in learning. "And," adds 
Agrippa, " were not women now forbidden to be literary, 
we should at this day have most celebrated women, whose 
wit would surpass that of men. What is to be said upon 
this head, when even by nature women seem to be born 
easily superior to practised students in all faculties ? Do 
not the grammarians entitle themselves masters of right 
speaking ? Yet we learn this far better from our nurses 

and our mothers than from the grammarians For 

that reason Plato and Quintilian so solicitously urged a 
careful choice of children's nurses, that the children's 
language might be formed on the best model. Are not 
the poets in the invention of their whims and fables, the 
dialecticians in their contentious garrulity, surpassed by 
women ? Was ever orator so good or so successful, that 


a courtesan could not excel his powers of persuasion? 
What arithmetician by false calculation would know how 
to cheat a woman in the payment of a debt ? What 
musician equals her in song and in amenity of voice? 
Are not philosophers, mathematicians, and astrologers 
often inferior to country-women in their divinations and 
prediction?, and does not the old nurse very often beat 
the doctor ? " Socrates himself, the wisest of men, did 
not disdain to receive knowledge from Aspasia, nor did 
Apollo the Theologian despise the teaching of Priscilla. 

Then follows a fresh stdng of illustrations by which we 
are brought to a contemplation of the necessity of woman 
for the perpetuation of any state, and the cessation of the 
human race that may be consequent on her withdrawal. 
Through more examples we are brought then to consider 
the honour and precedence accorded by law and usage to 
the female sex. Man makes way for woman on the public 
road, and yields to her in society the highest places. 
Purple and fine linen, gold and jewels are conceded as the 
fit adornments of her noble person, and from the sump- 
tuary laws of the later emperors women were excepted. 
Illustrations follow of the dignity and privileges of the 
wife, and of the immunities accorded to her by the law. 
Reference is made to ancient writers, who tell how, among 
the Getulians, the Bactrians, and others, men were the 
softer sex, and sat at home while women laboured in the 
fields, built houses, transacted business, rode abroad, and 
went out to do battle. Among the Cantabrians men 
brought dowries to their wives, brothers were given in 


marriage by their sisters, and the daughters of a house- 
hold were the heirs. Among the Scythians, Thracians, 
and Gauls, women possessed their rights, but among us, 
said Agrippa, " the tyranny of men prevailing over divine 
right and the laws of nature, slays by law the liberty of 
woman, abolishes it by use and custom, extinguishes it by 
education. For the woman, as soon as she is born, is from 
her earliest years detained at home in idleness, and as if 
destitute of capacity for higher occupations, is permitted 
to conceive of nothing beyond needle and thread. Then 
when she has attained years of puberty she is delivered 
over to the jealous empire of a man, or shut up for ever in 
a shop of vestals. The law also forbids her to fill public 
offices. No prudence entitles her to plead in open court." 
A list follows of the chief disabilities of women, " who are 
treated by the men as conquered by the conquerors, not 
by any divine necessity, for any reason, but according to 
custom, education, fortune, and the tyrant's opportunity." 
A few leading objections are then answered. Eve was 
indeed made subject to man after the fall, but that curse 
was removed when man was saved. Paul says that " Wives 
are to be subject to their husbands, and women to be 
silent in the church," but he spoke of temporal church 
discipline, and did not utter a divine law, since " in Christ 
there is neither male nor female, but a new creature." 
"We are again reminded of the text subjecting Abraham 
to Sarah, and the treatise closes then with a short re- 
capitulation of its heads. " We have shown," Agrippa 
says, " the pre-eminence of the female sex by its name, its 


order and place of creation, the material of which it was 
created, and the dignity that was given to woman over 
man by God, then by religion, by nature, by human 
laws, by various authority, by reason, and have demon- 
strated all this by promiscuous examples. Yet we have 
not said so many things but that we have left more still 
'to be said, because I carne to the writing of this not 
moved by ambition, or for the sake of bringing myself 
praise, but for the sake of duty and truth, lest, like a 
sacrilegious person, I might seem, if I were silent, by an 
impious taciturnity (and as it were a burying of my talent) 
to refuse the praises due to so devout a sex. So that if 
any one more curious than I am should discover any 
argument which he thinks requisite to be added to this 
work, let him expect to have his position not contested 
by me, but attested, in as far as he is able to carry on this 
good work of mine with his own genius and learning. 
And that this work itself may not become too large a 
volume, here let it end." 

Such was the treatise written by Cornelius at Dole for 
the more perfect propitiation of the Princess Margaret. 
Many years elapsed before it was printed and presented 
to the princess; doubtless, however, the youth read the 
manuscript to his betrothed very soon after it was written. 
Towards the close of the year a friend in Cologne wrote 
to Agrippa of the impatience of his parents for their son's 
return, but at the close of November another friend in 
Cologne, Theodoric, Bishop of Cyrene, asking as an espe- 
cial favour for his views upon judicial astrology so hotly 


opposed by Pic di Mirandola, says that his expressions on 
the subject had appeared to him ambiguous when they 
conversed together 1 . Probably he had then been offering 
to the embrace of his parents not a son only, but a son 
and daughter, for it is said to have been in the year 1509, 
when all was honour for him in the present, all hope in the 
future, that Cornelius von Nettesheim married Jane Louisa 
Tyssie 3 , of Geneva, a maiden equal to him in rank, remark- 
able for beauty, and yet more remarkable for her aspirations 
and her worth. She entered with her whole soul into the 
spirit of her husband's life, rejoiced in his ambition, and 
knew how to hold high converse with his friends 3 . The 
marriage was in every respect a happy one ; there was a 
world of gentleness and loving kindness in Agrippa's heart. 
We shall have revelation of it as the narrative proceeds. 
The tenderness of his nature mingles strangely, sadly, with 
his restlessness, his self-reliance, and his pride. 

So, full of hope and happiness, at the age of twenty- 
three, he took to wife a maiden who could love him for 
his kindliness, and reverence him for his power. He was 
no needy adventurer, but the son of a noble house, who 
was beginning, as it seemed, the achievement of the 
highest honours. He was surrounded by admirers, already 
a doctor of divinity, hereafter to attain he knew not what. 
Fostered by Maximilian's daughter, what might not his 
intellect achieve ? 

1 Ep. 21. Lib. i. p. 700. 

2 Thevet. Portraits et Vies des ffommes Ilhistres (ed. Paris, 1584), Tom. ii. 
p. 542. " II espousa Mademoiselle Louyse Tyssie, issue de fort noble 
maison, 1'an de son aage vingt et trois, et de salut, mil cinq cens et neuf." 

3 She is made in this character the subject of verses by Agrippa's friends. 


Poor boy, even in that year of hope the blight was 
already settling on his life ! While he was writing praise 
of womanhood at Dole to win the smiles of Margaret, 
Catilinet, a Franciscan friar 1 , who had been at the 
adjacent town of Gray when Reuchlin was expounded, 
meditated cruel vengeance on the down-chinned scholar. 
At Ghent, as preacher before the Regent of the Nether- 
lands and all her court, Catilinet was to deliver in the 
Easter following the Quadragesimal Discourses. Against 
the impious Cabalist he was preparing to arouse the wrath 
of Margaret during those same days which were spent 
by the young student in pleasant effort to deserve her 
1 Expost. contra Catilinet, and Preface to the De Nob. et Prcec. F. S. 




STILL in the year 1509 and in the first months of the 
year 1510, in that year of activity, twenty-third only of 
his life, which set a stamp upon his subsequent career, 
and is the most important date in this biography, Cor- 
nelius A grippa, with the courage of youth and the am- 
bition of youth, compiled into a system all the lore he 
had been gathering, and wrote his Books of Magic 1 . 
Magical studies were for the most part discouraged in 
those days, not by enlightened scepticism, but by ignorant 
credulity and superstitious fear. Only a few men of that 
age had stepped very far in intellect before their time, 
and to the number of these Cornelius did not belong. 
But the part of his own time which he represented (I 
leave out of account its foremost pioneers) was certainly 
the best part. Truth was better served, the right of free 

1 They had not only been submitted to the Abbot Trittenheim, but had 
been read and were criticised by him on the 8th of April, 1510, in a letter 
which is both included in the correspondence and prefixed to all editions of 
the work itself. 

VOL. I. I 


inquiry was more manfully asserted, by the writing of 
those books, which seem to us so full of error and ab- 
surdity, than by that spirit in the priests and in the popu- 
lace which caused the writer of them to be looked upon 
with a vague dread and with aversion. 

We must know now what the young man wrote, and 
in what spirit it was written. To a comprehension of 
the meaning of Agrippa's life, and to a just opinion of 
his right place in the history of literature, a careful sur- 
vey of these books of magic is essential. In this chapter, 
therefore, and in the three chapters which succeed it, 
an attempt is made to represent them, of course very 
much reduced in scale, but still with enough fulness of 
detail to suggest their scope and spirit. Such a sketch, 
too, may not be without an adventitious use, by showing 
how much wisdom may have once gone to the begetting 
of ideas for which even the ignorant are now either pitied 
or reviled ; that it is man*s reason of yesterday which has 
become his superstition of to-day. 

Before passing to the following scheme of Cornelius 
Agrippa's Treatise upon Magic, as representing, at the 
period of his life which we have now reached, an im- 
portant feature in its author's mind, it may be well to 
say, that we must imagine ourselves looking over it as it 
lies finished on its author's desk. It is, in the years 
1509-10, a manuscript and not a book 1 . 

1 There were translations into most languages of these Books of Occult 
Science within the century and a half succeeding their first publication. 
The best of the English translations (Three Books of Occult Philosophy, 
written by Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim, Counsellor to Charles the Fifth, 


Every inferior is governed by its superior, and receives, 
transmitted through it, the influence of the First Cause 
of all. There is a threefold world an elementary, a 
celestial, and an intellectual and these three parts of the 
universe Cornelius intends to treat in his Three Books of 
Mastic. Wise men conceive it in no way irrational to 
ascend by degrees through each world to the Author of 
All Worlds, and not only to admire the more exalted 
things, but to draw down their virtues from above. 
They search, therefore, the powers of the elementary 
world, by studying physics and the many combinations 
of things natural ; they inquire into the harmonies of the 
celestial world, by studying the mysteries of numbers and 
proportion, and applying to a contemplation of the stars 
the rules discovered by astrologers. Finally, they ratify 
and confirm this knowledge by a study of the intelli- 
gences working in the world, and of the sacred mysteries. 
Upon these matters Cornelius says that he intends to 
treat. " I know not," he adds, " whether it be an un- 
pardonable presumption in me, that I, a man of so little 
judgment and learning, should, in my very youth, set 
upon a business so difficult, so hard, and intricate, as this 
is. Wherefore, whatsoever things have here been already, 

Emperor of Germany, and Judge of the Prerogative Court. Translated by 
J. F. London, 1651.) is not very complete, and contains numerous blun- 
ders ; but I have had it before me while making the succeeding abstract, 
and, as far as the sense allowed, when using Agrippa's words, have often 
made use of its old-fashioned phraseology. The first Book of Occult 
Science was issued before the rest, and it is to the first edition of it (Henrici 
Cor. Agrippce ab Nettesheym a Cansiliis et Arckivis Inditiarii sacra Ccesarece 
Majestatis. De Occulta Philosophm Libri Tres (ending suddenly at Book I.). 
Antwerp, Joan. Graphaeus, February, 1531) that succeeding notes refer. 


and shall afterwards be said by me, I would not have any 
one assent to them, nor shall I myself, any further than 
they shall not suffer reprobation of the universal Church 
and congregation of the faithful 1 ." 

In the second chapter, Magic is defined and lauded as 
the whole knowledge of nature, the perfection of all true 
philosophy. For there is no regular philosophy that is 
not natural, mathematical, or, theological, one teaching 
the nature of those things that are in the world, another 
teaching the quantity of bodies in their three dimen- 
sions, and the motion of celestial bodies, and the last 
teaching what God is, what the mind, what an intelli- 
gence, what an angel, what a devil, what a soul, what 
religion, what sacred rites and mysteries, instructing us, 
also, concerning faith, miracles, the virtues of words and 
figures, the secret operations and mysteries of seals. 
These three principal faculties Natural Magic joins and 
comprehends ; there is no true magic apart from any one. 
Therefore, this was esteemed by the ancients as the 
highest and most sacred philosophy. Cornelius cites a 
roll of names, and adds, " It is well known that Pytha- 
goras and Plato went to the prophets of Memphis to 
learn it, and travelled through almost all Syria, Egypt, 
Judaea, and the schools of the Chaldeans, that they might 
not be ignorant of the most sacred memorials and records 
of magic, as also that they might be imbued with divine 
things 2 ." 

1 De Occ. Phil. ed. cit. ad fin. cap. i. B. (Pagination is by the lettering 
of sheets.) 
' Ibid. ed. cit. B 2. 


The next four chapters, of which two are general and 
two are special, open the discussion upon natural philosophy 
with an account of the four elements, Fire, Earth, Water, 
Air, whereof by transmutation and union all inferior 
bodies are compounded. None of the sensible elements 
are pure, but more or less mixed, and they are convertible 
into each other ; thus earth being dissolved produces water, 
which being evaporated becomes air, and kindled air is fire, 
and out of fire may come earth or stone, as is proved in 
the case of thunderbolts. Between the four elements there 
are many relations of likeness and unlikeness. Thus fire 
is hot and dry, earth is dry and cold, water is cold and 
moist, air is moist and hot; so that only fire and water? 
earth and air, are perfect contraries. Plato assigns to each 
three qualities: as to the fire, brightness, thinness, motion; 
to the earth darkness, thickness, quietness ; to the others 
other combinations of these qualities, while by them all 
these qualities are possessed in contrasted proportions. 

But beyond such necessary considerations, not less ne- 
cessary is a knowledge of the fact that there are three 
separate states in which the elements exist. First, they 
are pure, distinct, and incorruptible, in which state they are 
the secondary causes of all natural operations. Secondly, 
they are compounded and impure, but capable of being 
resolved by art into their perfect form. Thirdly, they are 
elements that were from the beginning interchangeable 
and twice compounded. They are in this last form known 
as the infallible medium, or soul of middle nature, through 
which proceed all bindings, loosings, transmutations, and 


which are operative in all mysteries, both mundane and 

We treat now separately of the power of each element. 

Fire, it will be found, is spread abroad in the heavens, 
and the heat of it is sensible in the water and the 
earth. In itself it is one, but in that which receives it 
manifold. Whatever lives, lives by reason of the enclosed 
heat. The infernal fire parches and makes barren; the 
celestial fire drives away spirits of darkness, and our custo- 
mary fire of wood drives them away, because it is the 
vehicle of that superior light, and comes through it from 
the Father of Lights. As, therefore, the spirits of darkness 
are stronger in the dark, so good spirits are more powerful 
in the light, not only of the sun, but of our common fire. 
Therefore it was ordained, by the first ceremonies of reli- 
gion, that there should be lighted candles or torches 
wherever worship was performed, and hence the symbol 
of Pythagoras, You must not speak of God without a 
jight 1 . Also for the driving away of evil spirits fires were 
kindled near the corpses of the dead ; and the great 
Jehovah himself commanded that with fire all sacrifices 
should be offered. 

But in the earth are the seeds of all things. Take as 
much of it as you please, wash it, purify it, let it lie in the 
open air, and it will, being full of heavenly virtues, of 
itself produce plants, worms and living things, stones and 
bright sparks of metal. If at any time earth shall be 
purified by fire, and reduced by a convenient washing to 
1 De Occ. Phil. ed. cit. C. 


simplicity, it is the first matter of our creation, and the 
truest medicine that can restore or preserve us. 

Water is the seminary virtue of all things. Only earth 
and water, Moses teaches, can bring forth a living soul; 
and Scripture testifies that herbs did not at first grow, 
because God had not caused it to rain upon the earth. 
Such is the efficacy of this element of water, that without 
it spiritual regeneration cannot be accomplished; very 
great, also, is the virtue of it, when it has been consecrated 
to religious worship. 

Air is a vital spirit passing through all beings, filling, 
binding, moving. The Hebrew doctors, therefore, reckon 
it not as an element, but count it as a medium, or glue, 
joining all things together, or as the resonant spirit of the 
world's instrument It receives into itself the influences 
of celestial bodies, and transmits them readily. As a 
divine mirror, it receives into itself the images of all things, 
and retains them. Carrying them with it, and entering 
into the bodies of men and other animals through their 
pores, as well when they sleep as when they wake, it 
furnishes the matter for strange dreams and divinations. 
Hence they say it is, that a person passing by the spot 
whereon a man was slain, or where the carcase has been 
recently concealed, is moved with fear and dread; because 
the air in that place being full of the dreadful image of 
manslaughter, doth, being breathed in, move and trouble 
the spirit of the passer-by with the like image, whence it is 
that he comes to be afraid. For by everything that makes 
a sudden impression nature is astonished. By the natural 


images of trees and castles formed on clouds, by the rain- 
bow, and by a strange way of reflecting writing back 
into the sky, together with a moonbeam falling on it, as 
well as by a reference to the echo, these matters are 
further illustrated. Of air in motion, or the winds, 
Agrippa speaks next, using chiefly the poetical descrip- 
tions to be found in Ovid, for these early writings of his 
are embellished liberally with quotations from the poets. 

After the four elements there come to be discussed the 
four kinds of perfect compounds 1 generated by them: 
stones, metals, plants, and animals. Though each contains 
all four, in each one element predominates : earth in the 
stone, water in metals (as chemists find to be true, who 
declare that they are generated by a viscous water, or 
waterish quicksilver); with air plants have so much 
affinity, that unless they be abroad in it they give no in- 
crease, and fire is not less natural to animals. Then in 
each, according to its kind, and even in parts of each, the 
degrees of preponderance are varied. Thus in plants the 
roots resemble the earth, by reason of their thickness, and 
the leaves water, because of their juice; flowers the air, 
because of their subtilty, and the seeds the fire, by reason 
of their multiplying spirit. In animals the bones resemble 
the earth, flesh the air, the vital spirit fire, the humours 
water. Nay, even in the soul itself, according to Augustine, 
the understanding will resemble fire, reason the air, imagina- 
tion water, and the senses earth. The senses, too, are so 
divisible ; for he sight is fiery, acting only by the help of 
1 Z> Oce. Phil. ed. cit. cap. vii. 


fire and light; the hearing is airy, for a sound is made by 
striking of the air; the smell and taste resemble water, for 
they act not without moisture; and lastly, the feeling is 
wholly earthy, taking gross bodies for its object. So, too, 
with man's character, for as the elements are the first of 
all things, so all things are of and according to them, and 
they are in all things, and diffuse their virtues through 

For, in the exemplary as in the corporeal world, by 
the consent of Platonists, all things are in all. The 
elements are to be found everywhere, here feculent and 
gross, in celestials more pure and clear, but in super- 
celestials living and blessed. There are earthy, fiery, 
watery, airy angels, devils, stars; the elements exist, 
also, in the Great Source of all. 

The first or secondary qualities of things, natural, 
elementary, or mixed, depend immediately upon the 
first virtues of the elements contained in them, or the 
proportion of their mixture 1 . 

But there are in all things occult virtues 2 , and the 
consideration of these opens up a new division of the 
subject. For the occult virtue does not proceed from 
any element, but is a sequel of its species and form ; so 
that, unlike the operation of an element, its being little 
in quantity (hear this, all homoeopathists !) is of great 
efficacy, because these virtues, having much form and 
little matter, can do much ; but an elementary virtue, 
having much materiality, requires more matter for its 
1 De Occ. Phil. ed. cit. cap, ix. Ibid. cap. x. 


acting. The universe abounds in examples of these 
qualities, called occult, because their causes lie beyond 
the reach of human intellect; philosophers attain to them 
by the help of experience alone. Thus, in the stomach 
the meat is digested by heat, which we know; but it is 
changed also by a secret virtue which we know not ; for 
truly it is not changed by heat, because then it should 
rather be changed by the fireside than in the stomach. 
To this class belong, therefore, all accredited marvels 
which are past all ordinary comprehension. There was 
no lack of them when Cornelius Agrippa wrote, and it 
is hard to see how, without some such theory as this of 
occult powers, any rational attempt could be made to 
bring them into harmony with other knowledge. For 
we are, by this time, well assured that nothing is in- 
credible by reason of its being marvellous ; we call things 
incredible only when they oppose themselves to what we 
know to be the universal laws. When those laws re- 
mained yet for the most part undiscovered, and the eyes 
of students, dazzled by the newly-opened glories of Greek 
literature, had no means of perceiving that its science was 
less ripe than its philosophy, and that its philosophy was 
not as perfect as they knew its poetry to be, it was im- 
possible to refuse credence to records left by the Greek 
sages, of their wide experience or knowledge. Nothing 
was yet known to refute their theories, and the wisest 
man could, as a mere scholar, do no more, till the old 
records of experience were practically tested by a genera- 
tion or two, and found wanting, than accept the au- 


thority of Plato, Aristotle, and bring their opinions into 
harmony with those then held to be indisputable by the 
Christian world. If it was right to make any attempt at 
all to form what was then known or believed of the uni- 
verse into a comprehensive and coherent system, there 
was no better way of doing it than this. 

At the basis of the theory of occult virtues, as stated 
by Cornelius Agrippa, lies the Platonic 1 notion of supe- 
rior ideas. Everything below has a celestial pattern, and 
receives from its own idea operative powers through the 

1 Many parts of this philosophy are modifications of the doctrine to be 
found in the Timaeus. The basis of the next following assertions, for ex- 
ample, may be found in the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of that exposi- 
tion of the views of Plato on the constitution of the physical world ; still 
more distinctly, however, in that later treatise on The Soul of the World and 
Nature, which its writer founded upon the Timceus of Plato, and palmed on 
the old philosopher himself, Timaeus the Locrian. In Cornelius Agrippa's 
time this treatise of Timaeus the Locrian was considered genuine, and it 
had been at least twice within ten years translated into Latin. Pliny's 
Natural History, the translated De Mundo Liber, and some of the other 
works of Apuleius, contain more of the doctrine and opinion expressed by 
Agrippa ; and he had read the most famous of the Alexandrian Platonics, 
constantly quoting Plotinus, Porphyry, and lamblichus, but Proclus sel- 
dom. To the authorities here cited Aristotle must, of course, be added, 
and modifications by him of opinions cited from Plato (6 yevvaio s nXarwv) 
and the Pythagoreans. Also the Orphic Hymns, and sundry books pro- 
fessing to be by disciples of Pythagoras. Also the books ascribed to the half- 
mythical Egyptian sage, Mercurius, or Hermes Trismegistus, of which the 
most important, Poemander, was one of the first things that came up with the 
revived study of Greek, a translation of it into Latin having been published 
at Venice by Marcilius Ficinus in 1483, and eight years afterwards re- 
printed. Other information was obtained from Avicenna, whose works had, 
in 1490, been published at Venice, translated into Latin "a Magistro 
Gerardo Cremonensi." Finally, it will be enough to name one only among 
the many later writers in whom Cornelius found congenial speculations, 
Albertus Magnus of Cologne, among whose works the De Ccelo et Mundo, 
De Secretis Naturce, De Virtutibus Herbarum, &c., furnished a good deal of 
material for these Books of Occult Science. 


help of the Soul of the World. For ideas not only give 
rise to the thing seen, but to the virtue that is in it, and 
things of the same kind vary in degree of power, not 
through any variation in the first idea, but through the 
various impurities and inequalities according to the 
desert of the matter into which it is infused. And soul 
being the primum mobile, as we say, when one man acts 
upon another, or the loadstone on the iron, that the soul 
of one thing went out and went into another thing, alter- 
ing it or its operations, so it is conceived that some such 
medium is the spirit of the world, called the quintessence, 
because it is not composed of the four elements, but is a 
fifth essence, a certain first thing Avhich is above them 
and beside them. This spirit exists in the body of the 
world, as the human spirit in the body of a man ; and as 
the powers of a man's soul are communicated to the 
members of the body by his spirit, so, through this mun- 
dane spirit or quintessence, are the powers of the soul of 
the world diffused through all things ; and there is nothing 
so base that it contains not some spark of its virtue, but 
there is most virtue in those things wherein this spirit 
does most abound. It abounds in the celestial bodies, and 
descends in the rays of the stars, so that things influenced 
by their rays become conformable to them so far forth in 
nature. By this spirit, therefore, every occult property is 
conveyed into herbs, stones, metals, and animals, through 
the sun, moon, planets, and through stars higher than 
the planets. If we can part spirit from matter, or use 
only those things in which spirit predominates, we can 


obtain therewith results of great advantage to us. The 
alchemists attempt to separate this spirit from gold and 
silver, because, rightly separated and extracted, it will 
have power to convert into gold or silver any other metal 
into the substance of which it shall be properly projected. 
Cornelius says that he has done this himself, but that he 
could never produce more gold in this manner "than 
the weight of that was out of which we extracted the 
spirit 1 ." The extent of his conjuring was, therefore, that 
out of an ounce of. gold he could make an ounce of gold, 
by a long chemical process. 

By what has been said we see how it will happen that, 
apart from the virtues common to its species, every indi- 
vidual person or thing may possess peculiar properties, 
because, from the beginning, it contracts, together with its 
essence, a certain wonderful aptitude both for doing and 
for suffering after a particular manner, partly through 
the influences of the celestial bodies streaming down 
from particular configurations, partly through the agree- 
ment of matter that is being generated to the concep- 
tions of the soul of the world. But from a Divine 
Providence these influences proceed as their first cause, 
and by it they are distributed and brought into a peculiar 
harmonious consent. The seal of the ideas is given to the 
governing intelligences, who, as faithful officers, sign 
all things entrusted to them with ideal virtue. " Now the 

1 Et nos illud facere novimus, et aliquando vidimus, sed non plus auri 
fabricare potuimus, nisi quantum erat illud auri pondus, de quo spiritum 
axtraximus. De Occ. Phil ed cit. E 3 ad fin. cap. xiv. 


first cause, which is God, although He doth by Intelli- 
gences and the Heavens work upon these inferior things, 
doth sometimes (these media being laid aside, or their 
officiating being suspended) work those things imme- 
diately by Himself, which works are then called miracles. 
And the reasons of these operations can by no rational 
discourse, no magic, or occult or profound science what- 
soever, be found out, or understood, but are to be learned 
and inquired into by divine oracles only 1 ." 

These first principles having been laid down, seven 
chapters follow on the various means of discovering occult 
virtues of things. As they proceed from the spirit of the 
world, and are too subtle to be apprehended by the senses, 
they can " no otherwise but by experience and conjecture 
be inquired into by us 2 ." We see at once how errors 
like those now denounced as superstition might most justly 
and honestly seem truth at the beginning of the sixteenth 
century, when Greece and Rome furnished the learned 
with both science and philosophy, when to principles more 
or less resembling those above detailed^were joined records 
of experience, utterly corrupt with fable, yet accredited 
by the most cultivated scholars that the world up to that 
epoch had known. Things now incredible were stated 
by them positively, believed by all their countrymen, 
and, as before said, up to the time when Cornelius was 

1 Op. cit. ad fin. cap. xiii. 

2 Ibid. cap. xvi. Quae a nobis non aliter quam experientia et conjec- 
tura indagari possunt. 


writing, uncorrected by the mass of opposite experience 
that has been since acquired. It is proper that we should 
not travel from this point of view in looking through a 
book which was an attempt to show the reasonable origin 
of that whole system of belief whereof many a shred is 
still religiously preserved in Europe. 

Now as to the experience of signs by which the cha- 
racter of occult powers may be detected. In the first place 
like turns to like, and virtues may come by way of simili- 
tude. Whatsoever -hath long stood with salt becomes salt. 
The nutritive virtue in an animal turns into animal sub- 
stance, herb, and grain. Fire moves to fire, water to 
water, and he that is bold moves to boldness, and it is 
well known among physicians that brain helps the brain 
and lung the lungs. Therefore, if we would obtain any 
property or virtue, let us look for things or animals in 
which such property or virtue is most largely contained, 
and use them, or the parts of them in which the property 
especially resides. Take, to promote love, some animal 
that is most loving, as a dove or sparrow, and take it at 
the time when these animals have this affection most 
intense. To increase boldness, look for a lion or a cock, 
and take of these, heart, eyes, or forehead. After the same 
manner doth a frog make one talkative, and the heart of 
a screech-owl, that is talkative of nights, laid over the heart 
of a woman when she is asleep, is said to make her utter 
all her secrets. Animals that are long-lived conduce to 
life, as is manifest of the viper and snake ; and it is well 


known that harts renew their old age by the eating of 
snakes 1 . 

And the power of one thing can be given to another, 
as the power of the loadstone may be given to the iron ; 
and the looking-glass used by a woman who is impudent 
will deprive of modesty another woman who looks often 
into it. For the same reason rings are put for a certain 
time into the nests of sparrows or swallows, which after- 
wards are used to procure love and favour 3 . 

There are also between things that are different enmities 
and friendships. So in the elements fire is an enemy to 
water, air to earth, yet they agree among themselves. So 
among celestial bodies Mercury, Jupiter, the Sun, and 
Moon are friends to Saturn ; Mars and Venus enemies to 
him. All the planets, except Mars, are friends to Jupiter; 
all, except Venus, enemies to Mars ; Jupiter and Venus 
love the Sun, but Mars and Mercury, as well as the 
Moon, hate him. All love Venus except Saturn. Mercury 
has Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn for his friends, and the 
same friends has also the Moon, but the Moon is not a 
friend to Mercury, neither is the Sun or Mars, while 
Mars agrees with Mercury in his return of hatred to the 
Moon. There is another kind of enmity among the stars, 
namely, when they have opposite houses. And of what 
sort the friendships and enmities of the superiors be, such 
are the inclinations of things subjected to them among 
their inferiors. There are many such concords and dis- 
cords. The dove loves the parrot, the vine loves the elm, 

1 De Occ. Phil. Lib. L cap. XT. ed. cit. E 4. * Cap. xvL 


the olive-tree the myrtle. The emerald draws riches ; the 
agate, eloquence. If any one eats passion-flower he shall 
die of laughing. We learn, from the use made of them 
by the brutes, virtues of many things. The sick magpie 
puts a bay-leaf into her nest and is recovered. The lion, 
if he be feverish, is recovered by the eating of an ape. By 
eating the herb ditany, a wounded stag expels the dart 
out of its body. Cranes medicine themselves with bul- 
rushes, leopards with wolfsbane, boars with ivy; for be- 
tween such plants and animals there is an occult friend- 
ship !. 

But there are inclinations of enmities 2 of which we may 
make use. As a thing angrily shuns its contrary, or drives 
it away out of its presence, so acts rhubarb against bile, 
or treacle against poison, amethyst against drunkenness, 
topaz against covetousness and all animal excess. Mar- 
joram loathes and destroys cabbage; cucumbers hate oil, 
und will run themselves into a ring lest they should touch 
it. Mice and weasels do so disagree, that it is said mice 
will not touch cheese if the brains of a weasel be put into 
the rennet. Nothing is so much an enemy to snakes as 
crabs ; wherefore, also, when the sun is in Cancer snakes 
are tormented. 

There are properties that belong only to individuals 3 , 
idiosyncrasies ; as when a man trembles at a cat, or 
fattens upon spiders. Avicenna says there was a man 

1 De Occ. Phil cap. xviL * Cap. xviii. ed. cit. F 2, 3. 

Cap. xix. 
VOL. I. K 


living in his time whom no poison hurt, and that what- 
ever venomous thing bit him itself perished. 

Again, virtues that are natural and common to a species 
are contained sometimes in the whole substance, some- 
times only in a part 1 . The civet cat hath this in its whole 
substance, that dogs by the mere contact with its shadow 
cease to bark, but it hath in its eyes only the power to 
make whoso beholdeth them stand still and amazed. So 
in a man's body it is only the little bone, called by the 
Hebrews Luz, which fire cannot destroy or time corrupt, 
and which is the seed of the new body that shall spring 
up in the resurrection. 

Finally, there is a distinction to be made between 
powers that exist only during the life of the thing opera- 
tive and those which remain in force after its death 3 . It 
is only when alive that the Echinus can arrest the course 
of ships. They say also, that in the colic, if a live duck 
be applied to the stomach it takes away the pain, and 
the duck dies. Generally, parts of animals that are used 
should be taken from the animal while it still lives and is 
in fullest vigour. The right eye of a serpent being applied 
relieves watering of the eyes, if the serpent be let go alive, 
and the tooth of a mole will be a cure for toothache, if it 
was taken from a living mole who was allowed to run 
away after the operation. Some properties remain, how- 
ever, after death, attached to things in which some part 
of the idea remains. So it is that herbs, when dried, re- 
tain their virtue, and the skin of a wolf corrodes the skin 
1 De Occ. Phil. cap. xx. 2 Cap. xxi 


of a lamb, and acts upon it not only by contact of sub- 
stance; for a drum made of the skin of a wolf being 
beaten will cause that a drum made of a lamb's skin shall 
not sound. 

These points having been determined, the next thirteen 
chapters 1 are devoted to an exposition of the influences 
of celestial bodies. Things are solary or lunary, jovial, 
saturnine, martial, or mercurial, according to the nature 
of strong impressions that have been communicated. Ac- 
cording to the doctrine of the Arabians, certain parts 
of the body, specified by them, are ruled over by each 
planet. Let us be content to name the Sun, who rules 
over the brain and heart, the thigh, the marrow, the right 
eye, and the spirit ; also the tongue, the mouth, the rest 
of the organs of the senses, as well internal as external ; 
also the hands, feet, legs, nerves, and the powers of imagi- 
nation. A royal domain, truly, but in many places en- 
joyed only with divided sway. Two or more planets may 
be set in government together over one part of the body. 
Then, again, as saith Hermes, there are seven holes in the 
head of an animal, distributed to the seven planets. Also 
among the several signs of the Zodiac is each living body 
parcelled out for government, and there is the same re- 
lation between the parts as between signs or planets ruling. 
The agreement of the triplicity in the case of Pisces and 
Virgo accounts for the fact that, by putting the feet into 
hot water, one may sometimes relieve pain in the belly. 
The plants also are classed under signs and planets, and 
1 De Occ. Phil. cap. xxiL-xxxr. 


in case of any disease help may be generally found by 
using things under the same sign as the part affected. 
Again, not only are the characters of men determined 
by the planets under which they have been born, but 
according to their character trades also are to be classed 
under celestial signs ; as old men, monks, and others 
under Saturn ; barbers, surgeons, soldiers, executioners, 
and butchers under Mars. 

Now, it is very hard to know what star Or sign every- 
thing is under. It is known sometimes through the 
imitation of the superior figure, as in the case of the sun 
in the blossom of the marigold, or the fruit of the lotus. 
Sometimes it is known by imitation of the rays of the 
superior, by its colour, odour, or effects. So gold is 
solary by reason of its splendour, and its receiving from 
the sun that which makes it cordial. Balsamic plants 
are solary, including Libanotis, called by Orpheus the 
sweet perfume of the sun. The baboon, also, is solary, 
because he barks twelve times a day, that is, every hour, 
and marks smaller intervals of time in a way that caused 
his figure to be carved by the Egyptians on their 
fountains 1 . 

Among lunary things are the earth, water, all moist 
things, especially those that are white; silver, crystal, and 

1 " Solaris cst Emocephalus qui per singulas boras duodecies in die latrat, 
et equinoctii tempore duodecies per singulas boras mingit : idem et in nocte, 
unde ilium in hidrologiis sculpebant ^Egyptii." De Occ. Phil. cap. xxii. 
ed. cit. G 4. Hermes Trismegistus, or a writer in his name, taught 
that the common division of time was suggested to man by the habits of 
this sacred animal. 


all those stones that are white and green. Amongst 
plants the selenotrope, which turns to the moon, as doth 
the heliotrope towards the sun, and the palm-tree, which 
sends forth a bough at every rising of the moon. Among 
lunary animals are such as delight to be in man's com- 
pany; and the'panther, which it is said has a spot upon 
its shoulder waxing and waning as the moon doth. Cats 
also are lunary, whose eyes become greater or less accord- 
ing to the course of the moon. Lunary also are am- 
phibious animals, and those which are equivocally gene- 
rated, as mice sometimes are bred from putrefaction of 
the earth, wasps are bred of the carcases of horses, bees 
of the putrefaction of cows, small flies of sour wine, and 
beetles of the flesh of asses 1 . 

Saturnine 2 are again earth and water, and, among 
other things, the heavy metals, such as gold and lead; 
plants whereof the juices stupify, also the yew and 
passion flower ; among animals all that creep, live apart, 
are dull, or gross, or those that eat their young; also such 
birds as have long necks and harsh voices. 

Jovial 3 are the air, the blood, and spirit; things sweet 
to the taste and with a piquant flavour. Gold is under 
Jupiter as well as Saturn. Jovial are gems with airy 
colours; lucky trees, such as the oak, beech, hazel, apple, 
pear, and so forth ; all manner of corn, raisins, liquorice, 
and sugar; such animals as are stately, wise, and of mild 
disposition ; such as are gentle, such as are devout peli- 

De Occ. Phil. cap. xxiv. foL H. * Cap. xxv. Cap. xxvi. 


cans and storks, for example. The eagle is under Jupiter 

Martial 1 are fire and all things sharp, or of a burning, 
bitter taste that causes tears. Among humours, bile ; 
among metals, iron and red brass ; all red and sulphurous 
things, diamond, bloodstone ; poisonous or prickly plants, 
or plants that sting ; animals that are bold, ravenous, or 
warlike ; offensive things, as gnats ; and those which are 
called fatal birds, as the screech-owl or kestrel. These, 
and other such things, are all ruled by Mars. 

Venus 3 rules air and water, over blood and spirit, over 
things sweet, unctuous, delectable, over silver and brass, 
over all fair, white, and green gems, over violets and 
maidenhair, over all sweet perfumes and fruits, especially 
pomegranates, which the poets say were in Cyprus first 
sown by Venus. It is this planet, also, that rules over 
all things prone to love. 

Mercurial 3 are water and animal spirit ; among hu- 
mours, those which are mixed ; among metals, quicksilver 
and tin ; artificial stones, also, and glass ; and things of a 
mixed nature, as, among plants, those that have much- 
indented leaves or flowers of divers colours ; among ani- 
mals, such as are quick, clever, and inconstant. 

It will have been observed that the same thing is often 
ruled by many stars in the great distribution of all sub- 
lunary things among the planets 4 . Thus in fire the light 
is solary, the heat is martial, the surface of its stream 

1 Cap. xxvii. 2 Cap. xxviii. 3 Cap. xxix. 

* Cap. xxx. 


lunary and mercurial. Every planet rules and disposes 
that which is like to it. All beauty, for example, is from 
Venus, and all strength from Mars ; therefore in plants 
the flower is from Venus, and from Mars the wood ; in 
gems, the fair surface is from Venus, and from Mars the 
hardness; and so of other planets, as when it is said of 
stones or gems that the weight or clamminess is of Saturn, 
the use and temperament of Jupiter, the life from the 
Sun, the occult virtue from Mercury, the common use 
from the Moon; or of plants, that the root is from Saturn, 
the fruit from Jupiter, the seed and bark from Mercury, 
and the leaves from the Moon. 

Moreover, all the kingdoms and the provinces of earth 1 
are found to be distributed under the several planets and 
celestial signs. Britain, France, Germany, Judaea, and 
other places, are thus under Mars with Aries; the Sun 
with Leo governs Italy, Phoenicia, and Chaldea; Mercury 
with Virgo, Greece, Assyria, and Babylon. " These," 
says Cornelius, after citing a sufficient number, " we 
have in this manner gathered from Ptolemy's opinion, 
to which, according to the writing of other astrologers, 
many more might be added. But he who knows how 
to compare these divisions of provinces according to the 
divisions of the stars, with the ministry of the ruling 
Intelligences and blessings of the tribes of Israel, the lots 
of the apostles and typical seals of the sacred Scripture, 
shall be able to obtain great and prophetical oracles con- 

1 Cap. xxxi. 


cerning every region, of things to come 1 ." At any rate, 
there was a good deal to be done before one could be 
qualified to prophesy. 

After having learned the influences of the planets, there 
are still the influences of the signs of the Zodiac and of the 
fixed stars to be studied 2 . The same principle extends 
throughout. The earthly ram is under the celestial ram, 
the ploughman's ox under the heavenly Taurus. The starry 
Ursa governs bears, and dogs are under Sirius. Apuleius 
has also assigned particular herbs to signs and planets, as the 
pimpernel to Sagittarius, the dock to Capricorn, marigold 
to the Sun, peony to the Moon, agrimony to the planet 
Jupiter. Again, we know by experience that asparagus 
is under Aries, and garden-basil under Scorpio ; for of 
the shavings of rams' horns sown comes forth asparagus, 
and garden-basil rubbed between two stones produceth 
scorpions 3 . 

But no inferior is ruled by one superior only, whether 
star or planet. Topaz is under the sun and the star 
Elpheia. Emerald is under Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, 
and the star Spica. 

Here ends the detail of the theory of nature, upon 
which were based, so far as concerned natural things, the 
arts of sorcery and divination. From theory to practice, 
therefore, the young student passes. 

1 Occ. Phil ed. cit H 4. Cap. xxxii. 

* Jamque etiam experientia cognoscimus, Asparagos subesse Arieti, et 
Basilicon Scorpioni. Nam seminata rasura cornu arietis nascuntur Aspa- 
ragi, et Basilicon contritum inter duoa lapides gignit scorpiones. Cap. 
xxiL H4. 




EVERY star has its peculiar nature and property, the 
seal and character of which it impresses through its rays 
upon inferior things subject to it, and of the several stars 
which govern one thing, the star having chief rule will 
set its seal the most distinctly 1 . Thus marigold, being 
solary, shows in its root, when cut, the characters of the 
sun; so, also, in the bones, especially the shoulder-bones, 
of animals, whence there has arisen a kind of divination 
by the shoulder-blades. Now, these characters, or seals, 
retain in them the virtues of the stars whence they pro- 
ceed, and can operate with those virtues upon other 
things on which they are reflected. But as the number 
of the stars is known only to God, and of the diversity of 
seals and operations man is able, with his brief experience 
and finite intellect, to understand only a few, we speak 
only of the signs that are upon man, who is the com- 
pletest image of the universe. 

Ancient sages, who inquired into the occult properties 

1 De Occ. Phil cap. xxxiiL 


of things, set down in writing images of stars, their seals 
and characters as they appear in plants, in joints or knots 
of boughs, and in members of animals. We set down 
here that part of this divine writing which was discovered 
by the ancient cheiromancers in the hands of men. These 
are called divine letters, because being the seals or charac- 
ters of planets, by them, according to the Holy Scripture, 
is the life of men writ in their hands. Here follow, there- 
fore, successively, line under line, the divine letters of 
Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, the Sun, and the 




Now, whoso desires to receive virtue from any part of 
the world, or any star 1 , should bring himself under its in- 
fluence by the use of those things that belong thereto; as 
whoso would prepare wood to receive flame should cover 
it with sulphur, pitch and oil. In this way, by applying 
together and combining wisely many things conformable 
to one idea, a singular gift is infused by the idea into that 
combination, by means of the soul of the world. With 
solary things, therefore, bring down virtues from the sun, 
and as all solar properties are not in one thing, but one 
solary thing will contain one property especially, another 
another, so to bring down the greatest effect, we must 
combine things all of them solary, but which attract the 
solar influence in diverse ways. This rule applies in every 
case 2 . Wonderful effects may be produced by the union 
of mixed things, and a more noble form drawn from 
above, if congruity be properly observed 3 . The like 
happens in nature by unions that take place between 
bodies through what the Greeks call sympathies ; divine 
powers being thus drawn down, for nature is the great 
magician 4 . " So we see that when nature has framed the 
body of the infant, by this very preparative she presently 
draws down the spirit from the universe. This spirit is 
then the instrument to obtain of God the understanding 
and mind in the soul and body, as in wood the dryness is 
fitted to receive oil, and the oil being imbibed is food for 
the fire, the fire is the vehicle of light. By these examples 

1 Cap. xxxiv. * Cap. xxxv. 3 Cap. xxxvi. 

Cap. xxxvii. fol. K. 


you see how by certain natural and artificial preparations, 
we are in a capacity to receive certain celestial gifts from 
above. For stones and metals have a correspondency with 
herbs, herbs with animals, animals with the heavens, the 
heavens with intelligences, and those with divine properties 
and attributes and with God himself after whose image 

and likeness all things are created For this is 

the band and continuity of nature, that all superior virtue 
doth flow through every inferior with a long and continued 
series, dispersing its rays even to the very last things : and 
inferiors, through their superiors, come to the very su- 
preme of all. For so inferiors are successively joined to 
their superiors : that there proceeds an influence from 
their head, the first cause, as a certain string stretched out, 
to the lowermost things of all : of which string if one end 
be touched, the whole doth presently shake: and such a 
touch doth sound to the other end: and at the motion of 
the inferior the superior also is moved, to which the 
other doth answer: as strings in a lute well tuned 1 ." 

Not only vital, but also angelical and intellectual gifts 
may be drawn from above 3 , as Mercurius Trismegistus 
and Saint Augustine, in his eighth book, " De Civitate 
Dei," relate that an image rightly made of certain proper 
things, appropriated to any one certain angel, will pre- 
sently be animated by that angel. Celestial spirits may, 
in this way, be invoked by men who are of a pure mind, 

1 De Occ. Phil. K 2. I have preserved the punctuation in this passage 
to show the use of the colon before semicolons were invented. 

2 Cap. xxxviii. 


humble themselves, and pray secretly. And by foul and 
profane men, who use such arts profanely, no man is 
ignorant that evil spirits may be raised 1 . 

Now, there are bindings 2 , as of a mill, that it can by 
no force whatever be turned round ; or of a robber, that 
he shall not steal in any place ; or of fire, that it cannot 
burn ; and these and many like wonders are worked by 
methods that have next to be detailed. First, there are 
sorceries as that of which Saint Augustine reports, who 
heard of some women sorcerers that were so versed in these 
kind of arts, that, by giving cheese to men, they could 
presently turn them into working cattle, and, the work 
being done, restored them into men again 3 . 

Now, I will show you what some of the sorceries are 4 . 

1 Cap. xxxix. * Cap. xl. * Cap. xli. 

4 Cap. xlii. The most wonderful, necessarily omitted from the text, is 
that described in the commencement of this chapter : " Sanguis menstruus, 
qui quantas in veneficio vires habeat, videamus : Nam ut dicunt, acescunt 
ejus superventu must a novella, vitis ejus tactu in perpetuum Uuditur : ste- 
rilescunt tactae fruges, moriuntur insitae, exuruntur hortorum germina, et 
fructus arborum decidunt, speculorum fulgor aspectu ipso hebetatur, et 
acies ferri in cultris tonsoriis eborisque nitor praestriguntur, etiam ferrum 
rubigine protinus corrumpitur : ses etiam contactum, grave virus diri odoris 
accipit, et eruginem : in rabiem aguntur gustato eo canes, atque insanabili 
veneno morsus infigitur, alvei apum emoriuntur, tactisque alveariis fugiunt, 
linaque cum coquuntur nigrescunt: eques si sint gravidae contacto eo abor- 
tum patiuntur, abortion etiam facit illitum pregnantibus. Asinae non con- 
cipiunt tot annis quot grana hordei eo contacta comederint, cinisque pan- 
norum menstruorum si quis eum aspergat lavandis vestibus purpuram 
mutat, floribus colorem adimit. Ferunt tertianas quartanasque febres fugari 
menstruo in lana arietis nigri in argento brachiali incluso. Praeterea ter- 
tianis quartanisque efficacissimum dicitur, plantas segri cum eo subterlini : 
multoque efficacius ab ipsa muliere etiam ignoranti : sic et comitiales impetus 
morbosque sanari. Inter omnes autem convenit si aqua potusve formidetur a 
morsu canis, supposita tantum calici lacinia menstruo tincta statim metum 
eura discuti. Praeterea ferunt nudatas in mense si segetem ambiant, erucas, 


The civet cat abounds with them : for, as Pliny reports, 
the posts of a door being touched with her blood, the arts 
of jugglers and sorcerers are so invalid that the gods 
cannot be called up. Also that they who are anointed 
with the ashes of the ankle-bone of her left foot, being 
decocted with the blood of a weasel, shall become odious 
to all. The same is done with the eye, being decocted. 
Also, it is said, that the straight gut is administered 
against the injustice and corruption of princes. Also, it is 
said, that the sword with which a man is slain hath won- 
derful power in sorceries : for, if the snaffle of the bridle, 
or spurs, be made of it, they say that with these any 
horse, though never so wild, may be tamed ; and that if a 
horse should be shod with shoes made with it, he would 
be most swift and fleet, and never, though never so hard 
rode, tire. But yet they will that some characters and 
names be written upon it. They say also, if any man 

ac vermiculos, scarabaeosque, ac cantarides, et noxia quaeque decidere, 
cavendum vero, ne id oriente sole faciant, sementem enim arescere. Similiter 
abigi grandines, turbinesque, ac contra fulgura prodesse, horum plura 
Plinius ipse recitat. Illud scias majus venenum esse si decrescente Luna 
accidat, sed vim eius maiorem esse si in silente Luna contingat, si vero in 
defectu Luna? Solisve evenit, irremediabile fieri : Maximi vero ac potentissimi 
vigoris esse, quando purgatio ilia primis annis evenit, atque in virginitate 
prima sit, id quoque convenit tune ei : nam tactis omnino postibus domus, 
irritum in ea fit omne maleficium. Praeterea ferunt quod fila vestis con- 
tactae, ne igne quidem vincuntur, atque si in incendium projiciantur, non 
dilatari amplius : dicitur quoque quod si radix Peoniss cum castoreo et 
litura pannorum menstruosorum detur patienti, sanari morbum comitialem. 
Prseterea si stomachum cervi cremaveris, vel assaveris, adjungasque de 
pannis menstruosis suffitus, eo balistas proficere ad venationem: 
capillos etiam mulieris menstruosaj, si sub fimo ponantur generari serpentes, 
ac etiam si crementur fugari eorum odore serpentes, tanta vis ejus veneficii 
est, ut etiam venenosis sit venenum." 


shall dip a sword, wherewith men were beheaded, in 
wine, and the sick drink thereof, he shall be cured of his 

Some suffumigations 1 or perfumings, also, that are 
proper to the stars, are of great force for receiving celestial 
gifts under the rays of the stars, inasmuch as they work 
strongly on the air and breath. Wherefore the inhaling 
of such vapours was wont to be used by soothsayers to 
affect their fancy and dispose them for reception of the 
influences which those vapours draw : so they say that 
fumes made with linseed and neabane seed and roots of 
violets and parsley make one to foresee things to come. 
Great things can suffumigations do in the air, as the liver 
of a chameleon, being burnt on the top of the house, doth, 
as it is manifest, raise showers and lightnings. There are 
also suffumigations under opportune influences of the stars 
that cause the images of spirits forthwith to appear in the 
air or elsewhere. The author gives several recipes ; this 
part of his work consisting mainly of a compilation of 
those secrets by which wonders were said to be worked, 
gathered from all sources and given to the world. " The 
fume of the burnt hoof of a horse drives away mice, the 
same doth the hoof of a mule, with which also, if it be 
the hoof of the left foot, flies are driven away. And they 
say, if a house be smoked with the gall of a cuttle-fish, 
made into a confection with red styrax, roses, and aloe 
wood, and if then there be some sea-water or blood cast 
into that place, the whole house will seem to be full of 
1 Cap. xliii. L 2. 


water or blood ; and if some earth of ploughed ground 
be cast there, the earth will seem to quake. 

Now, with such vapours anything can be infected, as 
the poisonous vapour of the plague being retained for two 
years in the walls of a house can infect the inhabitants, 
and as the contagion of plague or leprosy lying hid in a 
garment doth long after infect him who wears it. There- 
fore were certain suffumigations used to images, rings, 
and such-like instruments of magic, as Porphyry saith, 
very effectually. So they say, if any one shall hide gold, 
or silver, or any other precious thing, the moon being in 
conjunction with the sun, and shall fumigate the place 
with coriander, saffron, henbane, smallage, and black 
poppy, of each a like quantity, bruised together and 
tempered with the juice of hemlock, that which is 
so hid shall never be found, or taken away, and that 
spirits shall continually keep it ; and if any one shall 
endeavour to take it away, he shall be hurt by them, 
and shall fall into a frenzy. And Hermes saith, that 
there is nothing like the fume of spermaceti for the 
raising of spirits ; wherefore, if a fume be made of that 
and lignum aloes, pepperwort, musk, saffron, red styrax, 
tempered together with the blood of a lapwing, it will 
quickly gather airy spirits together, and if it be used about 
the graves of the dead, it gathers together spirits, and the 
ghosts of the dead. 

But as often as we direct any work to the sun 1 , we 
must make suffumigations with solary things ; if to the 
1 Cap. xliv. L 4. 


moon, with lunary things, and so of the rest. And we 
must know, that as there is a contrariety and enmity in 
stars, and spirits, so also in suffumigations unto the same. 
So there is a contrariety betwixt aloes wood and sulphur, 
frankincense and quicksilver; and spirits that are raised 
by the fume of aloes wood are laid by the burning of 
sulphur. As Proclus gives an example in a spirit, which 
was wont to appear in the form of a lion, but by the 
setting of a cock before it, vanished away, because there 
is a contrariety betwixt a cock and a lion. 

It is necessary, therefore, to know of what substances 
the fumes are appropriated to each planet, and a list of 
some of them is given by the young magician in another 
chapter. He then passes, in his forty-fifth chapter, to an 
account of eye-waters, ointments, and love-spells. Our 
spirit is the subtle vapour of the blood, and by applying 
to the body substances which mingle with that vapour 
subtle vapour of their own, the natural powers of the spirit 
take part in the virtues brought down by the collyrium or 
unguent used. Very great is the power of a collyrium 
or eye- water, because the sight perceives more purely than 
the other senses, and agrees more than any other sense 
with the fantastic spirit, as is apparent in dreams, when 
things seen present themselves to us oftener than things 
heard, or anything coining under the other senses. Where- 
fore it is possible by eye- waters to give apparent external 
perception to images conceived within the mind, and 
images of spirits so formed can be made visible in the air, 
" as," says the youth, " I know how to make of the gall 

VOL. I. L 


of a man, and the eyes of a black cat, and of some other 
things." They are the passions and the delusions of 
maniacal and melancholy men that can by these means be 
induced. But great, also, is the power of fascination, 
which comes from the spirit of a witch 1 , by its flow out 
of the eyes in a pure, lucid, subtle vapour, generated of 
the purer blood, by the heat of the heart. And as the 
vapour from blear eyes falling upon eyes that are sound 
may corrupt them, so may the motions and imaginations 
of one spirit be poured through the eyes and be the vehi- 
culum of that spirit through the eyes of him that is 
opposite. Whence Apuleius saith, " thy eyes sliding down 
through my eyes, into mine inward breast, stir up a most 
vehement burning in my marrow." Thus love may be 
lit by the rays of the eyes only, and the witch uses her 
power of fascination which she makes intense by mingling 
with those rays the power of colly ria and ointments, using 
martial eye- waters to strike with fear, saturnine to procure 
sickness or misery, and so forth. Upon the same principle 
can use be made of potions. 

Upon the same principle, also, are made charms which 
may be worn upon the body, bound to any part of it, or 
hung about the neck 2 , changing sickness into health, or 
health into sickness, and rendering those who wear them 
terrible or gracious, acceptable or abominable, to their 
neighbours. In like manner, we see that the torpedo 
being touched afar off with a long pole doth presently 
stupify the hand of him that toucheth it. So they say, 

1 Cap. 1. N 1, 2. - Cap. xlvi. M 2. 


that if a starfish be fastened with the blood of a fox and a 
brass-nail to a house gate, in that house evil medicines can 
do no hurt. It is necessary that we know the certain rule 
of alligation and suspension namely, that they be done 
under a certain and suitable constellation, and that they be 
done with wire or silken threads, with hair or sinews of 
certain animals. And things that are to be wrapped up 
must be wrapped in leaves, skins, or fine cloth, chosen 
according to the suitableness of things ; as if thou wouldst 
procure the solary. virtue of anything, this being wrapped 
up in bay-leaves or skin of a lion, hang it about thy 
neck with a golden thread, or silk of a yellow colour, 
whilst the sun rules in the heavens ; so shalt thou be 
endowed with the solary virtue of that thing. But if 
thou dost desire the virtue of any saturnine thing, thou 
shalt in like manner take that thing whilst Saturn reigns, 
and wrap it up in the skin of an ass, or in a cloth used at 
a funeral, especially if thou desirest it for sadness, and 
with a black thread hang it about thy neck. 

Like to this, also, is the use of rings 1 . When any star 
ascends fortunately, take a stone and herb that are under 
that star, make a ring of the metal that is congruous 
therewith, and in that fix the stone with the herb under 
it. We read in Philostratus larchus, that a wise prince 
of the Indies gave seven rings made after this manner, 
marked with the names and virtues of the seven planets, 
to Apollonius, of which rings he wore every day one, 
distinguishing them according to the names 'of the days, 

1 Cap. xlvii. M 2. 


and by the benefit of them lived one hundred and thirty 
years, as also always retained the beauty of youth. 

There are also virtues that belong to places 1 . Look 
for the footmark of a cuckoo in that place where he hath 
first been heard, and if his right foot be marked about 
and the footstep digged up, there will no fleas breed in 
that place where it is scattered. Particular places are 
appropriated to each star. To Saturn foul or gloomy 
places, churchyards, caves, or fens. To Jupiter privi- 
leged places, as consistories, tribunals, schools. To Mars 
fiery and bloody places, such as fields of battle, bake- 
houses, or shambles. To the sun light places, the serene 
air, palaces and thrones. To Venus, pleasant fountains, 
green meadows, and wherever those under her rule resort. 
To Mercury, shops, warehouses, exchanges. To the 
moon, wildernesses, woods, rocks and mountains, waters 
and sea-shores, highways and granaries for corn. In seek- 
ing to draw virtue from any star or planet, collect things 
suitable in a place suitable. Stand also, while doing any 
work of this kind, in a suitable position, for the four 
corners of the earth belong to this matter. Thus, they 
that are to gather a saturnal, martial, or jovial herb, 
must look towards the east or south, partly because they 
desire to be oriental from the sun, or partly because their 
principal houses namely, Aquarius, Scorpio, Sagittarius 
are southern signs, so also are Capricorn and Pisces. 
In any solary work, also, we must look towards the east 
or south, but rather towards the solary body and light. 

1 Cap. xlviii. M 3. 


In labouring under the other planets, look, for the opposite 
reasons, in the opposite directions. 

Because of the subtlety of light 1 and its quick passage 
into bodies, and especially into man through the eyes, 
great is the power of light to mar or make enchantments. 
Therefore, enchanters have a care to cover their enchant- 
ments with their shadow. By artificial lights of many 
kinds and colours, properly confected, strange things may 
be made to appear. They say that if, when grapes are 
in flower, any one shall tie a bottle of oil to the grape- 
vine, and so leave it till the fruit is ripe, that oil being 
thereafter lighted in a lamp, a vision of grapes is produced. 
Such force also is in sepia, that it, being put into a lamp, 
makes blackamoors appear. It is also reported, that a 
candle made of some saturnine things, if being lighted it 
be extinguished in the mouth of a man newly dead, will 
afterwards, as often as it shines alone, bring great sadness 
and fear upon them that stand about it. 

Of colours of lights and of all colours it should be 
known that there are to each planet certain colours that 
are proper. These Cornelius details. 

The fifty-first chapter of the first book of Occult 
Science contains notes of various conditions that, if they 
be observed, will produce wonderful results. Thus, if a 
man have ague, let all the parings of his nails be put into 
pismires' caves, and they say that that which began to 
draw the nails first must be taken and bound to the neck, 
and by this means will the disease be removed. Also 

1 Cap. xlix. M 4. 


they say that a man's eyes being washed three times with 
the water wherein he has washed his feet will never 
be sore. And a little frog climbing up a tree, if any one 
shall spit in his mouth, and then let him escape, is said 
to cure the cough. It is a wonderful thing, but easy to 
experience, that Pliny speaks of, " If any one shall be sorry 
for any blow that he hath given another afar ofi^ or nigh 
at hand, if he shall presently spit into the middle of the 
hand with which he gave the blow, the party that was 
smitten shall presently be freed from pain." This, we are 
told, hath been approved of in a four-footed beast that 
hath been sorely hurt. Some there are that, in the same 
way, aggravate a blow before they give it (as to this day 
do our pugilists and our spade-labourers). Also they say, 
that if any one shall measure a dead man with rope, first 
from the elbow to the biggest finger, then from the 
shoulder to the same finger, and afterwards from the head 
to the feet, making those measurements three times, if 
any one afterwards be measured with .the rope in the 
same manner, he shall not prosper, but be unfortunate 
and fall into misery and sadness. 

Countenance, gesture, gait, and figure of the body 1 , 
conduce to the receiving of celestial gifts, and expose us 
to the superior bodies, and produce certain effects in us, 
no otherwise than as in hellebore, which, when thou 
gatherest, if thou pullest the leaf upward, it draws the 
humours upward and causeth vomiting ; if downward, 
it causeth purging, by drawing the humour downward. 
1 Cap. lii. N 3, 4. 


A pleasant face spreads joy around, a gloomy face dis- 
comfort ; certain characters are formed by the disposition 
of the heavens, whether martial, mercurial, saturnine. 
And the heavens produce, not only characters, but shapes. 
For Saturn rules a man to be of a black and yellowish 
colour, lean, crooked, of a rough skin, with great veins, 
hairy all over his body, little eyes intent upon the ground; 
a frowning forehead, a thin beard, great lips; a heavy 
gait, striking his feet together as he walks. But Jupiter 
signifies a man to be of a pale colour, darkish red, a 
handsome body, good stature, bold, with great, large- 
pupilled eyes that are not altogether black, short nostrils 
not equal, large front teeth, and curly hair. Thus upon 
the features, and the marks and lines upon the face and 
body, are founded physiognomy, metoposcopy, and cheiro- 
mancy, arts of divination not to be slighted or condemned 
when prognostication is made by them, not out of super- 
stition, but by observation of the harmonies and cor- 
respondences of all parts of the body. And whosoever, 
in gesture, countenance, or passion, with a due regard to 
fitness of opportunity, makes himself accordant to any 
one of the celestial bodies, by so much as his accordance 
is made greater can receive from them the larger gifts. 

The treatise turns, in the next place, to divination, by 
means of auguries and auspices 1 , lightning and prodigies. 
To a compilation of the belief and practice of the ancients 
Agrippa finds matter to add. There is Michael Scot's 
twelvefold division of auguries ; six on the right hand, 
1 Cap. liii.-lvi. 0-P 4. 


which he calls Fernova, Fervetus, Sonnasarnova, Sonna- 
sarvetus, Confert, Emponenthem ; and six on the left 
hand, which are Confernova, Confervetus, Scassarnova, 
Scassarvetus, Viarum, Herrenam. When a flying bird 
alights on the right-hand side of any one, then it is Con- 
fernova, a good sign. When a man or bird passing you 
stops to rest on the left-hand side, then it is Scassarvetus, 
and an evil sign. There is divination from the cry or 
song of any bird, and there is divination also from its 
nature. Swallows, because when they are dying they 
provide a place of safety for their young, portend a great 
patrimony, or legacy, from the death of friends. A spar- 
row is a bad omen to one that runs away, for she flies 
from the hawk and makes haste to the owl, where she is 
in as great danger. There are like omens from all other 
animals. If a snake meet thee, take heed of an ill-tongued 
enemy ; for this animal hath no other power but in his 
mouth. Meeting of monks, declares Cornelius, is com- 
monly accounted an ill omen, and so much the rather if 
it be early in the morning, because these kind of men live 
for the most by the sudden death of men, as vultures do 
by slaughter. 

The ancients did also prognosticate from sneezings, be- 
cause they thought they proceeded from a sacred place 
namely, the head, in which the intellect is vigorous and 
operative. Whence also, whatsoever speech cornes un- 
awares into the mind of a man rising in the morning is a 

Now there is, as saith William of Paris, in most animals 


an instinct of nature more sublime than human apprehen- 
sion, and very near to prophecy. This manifestly appears 
in some dogs, who know by this instinct thieves and men 
that are hid. In like manner vultures foresee future 
slaughter in battles, and gather themselves together into 
places where they foresee that the heaps of carcases will 
be. The animal world also is distributed among the 

There are, moreover, presages to be obtained out of the 
elements. From , colours, motions, forms, and celestial 
congruities of earth, water, air, and fire, there are drawn 
those four famous kinds of divination : Geomancy, Hydro- 
mancy, Aeromancy, Pyromancy 1 . 

In the next chapter upon the revival of the dead 2 , the 
sleeping for many years together, as it is said that Epi- 
menides slept fifty years, and gave rise to the proverb 
against sluggards, to outsleep Epimenides, of these things, 
and of long-continued abstinence from food, Cornelius 
says that they are hard to be believed, but that they are 
to be credited, inasmuch as they are certified abundantly 
by approved historians. He accumulates in evidence of 
this a great number of cases. 

Divination by dreams 3 that are not vain dreams, but 
caused by the celestial influences in the fantastic spirit, 
mind, or body, properly disposed, is not to be carried on 
by the one common rule provided in astrology, because 
dreams come by use to divers men in divers manners. It 
is proper that each man should note carefully his own 

Cap. Ivii. P 4. 2 Cap. Iviii. Q. 3 Cap. lix. Q 8. 


manner of dreaming, remembering that dreams are most 
efficacious when the moon passes over that sign which 
was in the ninth number of the nativity, or revolution 
of that year, or in the ninth sign from the sign of per- 

There is also a prophetic madness falling upon men 
who are awake, and so great is the force of melancholy 1 
in some persons that it sometimes draws celestial spirits 
down into men's bodies, by whose presence and instinct, 
antiquity testifies, men have been made drunk, and spoken 
most wonderful things. And this, it is thought, may 
happen in three ways, according to a threefold apprehen- 
sion of the soul, imaginative, rational, and mental. When 
the mind is forced by melancholy beyond the bonds of 
the members wholly into one of these, if it be into the 
first, an ignorant man may become suddenly an artist ; 
and if a prophet, prophesier of disturbances among the 
elements ; but if it be with the second he may become 
suddenly a philosopher, physician, orator ; and if a pro- 
phet, prophesies mutations of kingdoms and the work of 
man in ages yet to come. 

The few remaining chapters of this first book of 
Occult Philosophy, treat of the nature and power of 
the human mind and passions. Man 2 was created, not 
by God immediately, but by the heavenly spirits under 
his command; and when these mixed the elements to 
make a body servant to the soul, they built it up with all 
its meaner parts in lower places, and the highest still the 

1 Cap. Ix. Q 4. - Cap. Ixi, 


best. As in the case of the external senses, the eyes, 
which have the uppermost place, are the most pure, and 
have affinity with fire and light; the ears next below 
have an affinity to air ; the nostrils are of middle nature 
and watery; below them the mouth, more like to the 
nature of water ; and over the whole body the touch, 
which is compared to the grossness of earth. But the 
interior senses are, according to Averroes, divided into 
four: (1.) Common sense, which collects and perfects the 
impressions brought in from without; (2.) Imagination, 
which takes and retains impressions, and presents them 
to (3.) Fancy, which judges what the things are, of which 
representations are thus brought to it, forms opinions 
upon them, and gives them to (4.) Memory to keep. 
Common sense and imagination occupy the two front 
chambers of the brain ; Fancy, or the cogitative power, 
takes the middle and the highest place ; and memory is 
lodged in the hindmost chamber. There are three appe- 
tites and four passions of the soul. The Appetites are 
1, natural, an inclination of nature to its end, as of a 
stone to fall ; 2, animal, which the sense follows, and it is 
subdivided into irascible and concupiscible ; 3, rational 1 , 
the will, which is free by its essence, and from the depra- 
vities of which the four Passions proceed, namely, Oblec- 
tation, which is a disposition to effeminacy ; Effusion, 
which is a melting and pouring of the whole mind into 
an enjoyment ; Vaunting, and Envy. These passions are 

1 Plato's division of the soul was into rational, irascible, and concupiscible. 
Bepublic, Lib. iy. cap. xvi. 


movements the result of apprehensions 1 , which are of 
three sorts, sensual, rational, and intellectual ; and over 
passions following the sensual apprehension Fancy is the 
ruler 2 , but according to the nature of the passions Fancy 
acts in producing sensible mutations in the accidents of 
the body. So in joy the spirits are forced outwards, in 
fear drawn back, in bashfulness moved to the brain ; 
anger produces heat, fear cold, sadness a sweat and bluish 
whiteness ; anxiety induces dryness and blackness, and 
how love stirs- the pulse physicians know who can discern 
therefrom the name of her that is beloved. So Naus- 
tratus knew that Antiochus was taken with the love of 
Stratonica. And how much vehement anger, joined 
with great audacity can do, Alexander the Great shows, 
who, being surrounded in a battle in India, was seen to 
send forth from himself lightning and fire. 

Now the passions produce changes in the body, by way 
of imitation 3 , as when he who sees another gape, gapes 
also ; and William of Paris knew a man upon whom any 
purgative draught would take effect at sight. So Cyppus, 
after he was chosen king of Italy, dwelt for a whole night 
upon the vivid recollection and enjoyment of a bull-fight, 
and in the morning was found horned, no otherwise than 
by the vegetative power being stirred up by a vehement 
imagination, elevating corniferous humours into his head. 
By this action of the Fancy (so great is the rule of the 
soul over the body) men are stirred to move from place 
to place, made able to weep at pleasure, to simulate the 
1 Cap. bdi. * Cap. Ixiii. * Cap. bdiii. 


voices of birds, cattle, dogs, or of neighbours ; and 
Augustine makes mention of some men who would move 
their ears at their pleasure, and some that would move 
the crown of their head to their forehead, and could draw 
it back again when they pleased. 

But the passions, following the fancy when they are 
most vehement, can not only change their own body, but 
can transcend so much as to work also on another body, 
to produce wonderful impressions on its elements, and 
remove or communicate disease 1 . So the soul, being 
strongly elevated, sends forth health or sickness to sur- 
rounding objects ; and Avicenna believed that with a 
strong action of the fancy in this manner one might kill 
a, camel. Such is the known action of the parent on the 
unborn child. We see how a diseased body, as in the 
case of plague, will spread disease. The like is true of a 
diseased mind. And ever of bad something bad, of good 
something good, is derived from them that are nigh, and, 
like the smell of musk, adheres for a long time. There- 
fore it is well to avoid immoral company, to be much 
near the rich and fortunate when seeking to be wealthy, 
or with the virtuous when seeking to do well. Now the 
passions act most powerfully when the influence of the 
celestials is co-operative with them, and by conforming 
our minds strongly to the nature of a star 2 , we can in- 
crease their power by attraction to them of the virtues of 
that star, as to a fitly-prepared receptacle. And they can 
act strongly only by help of a strong faith ; therefore we 
1 Cap. Ixv. 2 Cap. Ixvi. 


must in every work, of whatever sort, if we would prevail 
in it, hope and believe strongly. Physicians own that a 
belief in them is more potent for cure than even medicine, 
and by a strong belief in their own power of curing, they 
give new strength to their remedies. Therefore, whoever 
works in magic must have belief strong always, be credu- 
lous, and nothing doubting. Distrust and doubting dis- 
sipate and break the power of the worker's mind, whence 
it comes that he is frustrated of the desired influence of 
the superiors. 

Let, therefore, every one who would work in magic 
study to conform himself in such manner to the outer 
universe as that he shall assimilate to himself the powers 
he desires, and be in right union with celestials, or with 
minds of other men; and every one that is willing to 
work in magic must know the property, virtue, measure, 
order, and degree of his own soul among the powers in 
the universe 1 . The superior binds the inferior, and the 
inferior is subject to the superior 3 . Thus a lion is afraid 
of a cock, because the presence of the solary power is 
more agreeable to a cock than to a lion; loadstone draws 
iron because it hath a superior degree of the celestial 
bear. Words 3 are of power in proportion to the worthi- 
ness of the tongue speaking, the influence of the voice, 
and virtue of the speaker ; and they are of most efficacy 
which express the greater things as intellectual, celestial, 
supernatural. They are of efficacy, also, in proportion to 
the worthiness and holiness of the language in which they 

1 Cap. Lxvii.' 2 Cap. Ixviii. 3 Cap. Ixix. 


are spoken. The essence of things signified lies in their 
proper names 1 . Adam first named things, knowing the 
influences of the heavens and the properties of all below, 
so that he named them perfectly in right accordance with 
their natures and their powers. Every name is signifi- 
cative by the celestial harmony, or by imposition of man ; 
when both significations meet in any name, the power 
then is double, being at once natural and arbitrary, and 
great is its influence if uttered with a faithful meaning 
and belief, in proper place and time. 

The power of sentences 2 exceeds that of words, inasmuch 
as they are more full of mind and purpose. In composing 
verses, or phrases, to attract the power of a star, set forth 
and extol what is congenial to it, vilify what is in anta- 
gonism to it ; invoke it by enumeration of its qualities, 
and of the things that it is able to perform or has per- 
formed. Thus Psyche in Apuleius prays to Ceres, by 
her fruitful right hand, by the joyful ceremonies of 
harvests, by the quiet silence of her chests, by the winged 
dragons her servants, by the furrows of the Sicilian 
soil, by the snatching waggon, by the clammy earth, by 
the cellar-stairs at the light nuptials of Proserpina, &c., 
&c. Stars, also, should be called upon by their own 
names and by the names of the intelligences ruling over 
them, and verses so framed should be spoken with signi- 
ficance and animation, with gesture, motion, and affection 
in full harmony, and with a blowing or breathing upon 
the words as they pass out, so that they may be over- 
1 Cap. Ixx. * Cap. Ixxi. 


flowed with the whole virtues of the inner soul. And 
from the use of sentences so formed, even by writing or 
pronouncing any of them backwards, there proceed un- 
usual effects. The succeeding chapter on the power of 
such enchantments is composed chiefly of illustrations 
quoted out of Apuleius, Lucan, Virgil, Ovid, and Ti- 

A written word or sentence has more power than a 
spoken one 1 . It is the last and most emphatical expres- 
sion of the mind. Therefore it is ordered by magicians 
that to give force to the expression of the will, when they 
gather a herb, make a figure, or do any work, they not 
only think and say, but also write why that is done 3 . 

Now there have been given to man mind and speech : 
the speech in divers languages not formed by chance, but 
from above, having proper characters whereby they agree 
with things superior and celestial; but before all figures 
and in writing, the letters of the Hebrews are in matter, 
form, and spirit, the most sacred 3 . They were formed 
after the figures of the stars, and the profoundest Hebrew 
Mecubals do undertake by the figure of their letters, the 
form of characters, and their signature, simpleness, compo- 
sition, separation, crookedness, directness, defect, abound- 
ing, greatness, littleness, crowning, opening, shutting, 
order, transmutation, joining together, revolution ot 

1 Cap. Ixxiii. 

~ So Virgil, of this duty of expression : 

"Necte tribus nodis ternos Amarylli colores, 
Necte Amarylli modo, et, Veneris, die, vincula nodo." 

3 Cap. Ixxiiii. 


letters and of points and tops, and by the supputation of 
numbers, by the letters of things signified to explain all 
things, how they proceed from the first cause, and are 
again to be reduced into the same. Moreover, they 
divide the letters of their Hebrew alphabet into twelve 
simple, seven double, and three mothers, which, they say, 
signify, as characters of things, the twelve signs, seven 
planets, and three elements, for they account air no ele- 
ment but as the glue and spirit of the rest. With a dis- 
cussion of these letters and an illustrative table the first 
book of Occult Philosophy is closed, the last topic being 
the occult use of the letters when employed as repre- 
sentatives of number. Upon this topic the writer touches 
very lightly, and so passes from studying the power of 
natural things in his first book to the direct consideration 
of the power that belongs to numbers in his second. 

We must not pause to dwell long on the spirit of the 
scheme of nature he detailed. Little disguised by Hebrew 
admixture, and little perverted by the speculations of the 
Platonists of Alexandria, Philo the Jew, Plotinus, and 
lamblichus, whom the young student quotes most fre- 
quently, we have again the Attic Moses, Plato, speaking 
through a young and strong heart to the world. Very 
great was the influence of Plato in this period of wakening 
to thought. Nothing was known by experience of nature, 
for little had been learnt since the time when Plato, 
theorising upon nature, owned it to be impossible to arrive 
at any certain result in our speculations upon the creation 
of the visible universe and its authors ; " wherefore," he 

VOL. I. M 


said, " even if we should only advance reasons not less 
probable than those of others, you should still be content 1 ." 
In this spirit alone Cornelius Agrippa taught his age. 
There are these marvels well accredited ; there is this 
cumbrous and disjointed mass of earthly, sensible ex- 
perience, which there is no way of explaining left to me 
but one. I accept the marvels, foolish as they seem ; 
they are as well accredited as things more obviously true. 
With God all things are possible. In God all things 
consist. I will adopt Plato's belief, that the world is 
animated by a moving soul, and from the soul of the 
world I will look up to its Creator. I cannot rest content 
with a confused mass of evidence ; I will animate with 
my own soul, and a faith in its divine origin, the world 
about me. I will adopt the glorious belief of Plato 2 , that 
we sit here as in a cavern with our faces held from looking 
to the cavern's mouth, down which a light is streaming 
and pours in a flood over our heads, broken by shadows 
of things moving in the world above. We see the 
shadows on the wall, hear echoes, and believe in all as 
the one known truth of substance and of voice, although 
these are but the images of the superiors. I also will 
endeavour to climb up out of the cave into the land 
flooded with sunlight. I connect all that we see here 
with Plato's doctrine of superior ideas, I subdue matter 
to spirit, I will see true knowledge in apparent foolish- 
ness, and connect the meanest clod with its divine 
Creator. I will seek to draw down influences, and to fill 

1 Timceus, section ix. * Politeia, Lib. vii. cap. i. ii. 


my soul with a new strength imparted by the virtue of 
ideas streaming from above. The superior manifest in 
the inferior 1 is the law of nature manifested in the thing 
created. My soul is not sufficient for itself; beyond it 
and above it lie eternal laws, subtle, not having substance 
or form, yet the cause of form and substance. I cannot 
hope to know them otherwise than as ideas ; to unborn 
generations they will be revealed, perhaps ; to me they 
are ideas, celestial influences, working intelligences. I 
believe in them, and 'I desire to lay open my soul to their 
more perfect apprehension. They are not God, though 
God created them ; they are not man, though they have 
by divine ordainment formed him. The more I dwell 
upon their qualities, the more I long for the divine, the 
more shall I be blessed by the reception of their rays. 
The more intensely I yearn heavenward, the more shall 
I bring down heaven to dwell in my soul. 

So we may hear, if we will, the spirit of the young 
inquirer pleading to us from across the centuries, and if 
our own minds ever yearned for an escape from the delu- 
sions of the grosser sense and the restriction set by crowds 
on free inquiry, there is no true heart that will not say, 
You laboured well, my brother. 

1 See this explanation of Platonic doctrine admirably enforced in a work 
published while these sheets are passing through the press, the late Pro- 
fessor Butler's Lectures mi the History of Ancient Philosophy. 





ARITHMETIC and geometry are, in a certain sense, u 
part of the first principles of magic. To show this is the 
object of the second book of Occult Science 1 . After a 
chapter 2 , which points out the wonders that have been 
achieved by those who have made only a mechanical use 
of the principles of mathematics, Cornelius proceeds to 
discuss their more recondite mysteries and powers. He 
treats first of Numbers, by the proportion of which, as 
saith Severinus Boethius, all things were formed 3 . If 
there are so many occult virtues in natural things, what 
marvel if in numbers, which are pure and commixed only 

1 The second and third books of Occult Philosophy appeared first at 
Cologne, preceded by a new edition of the first book, in July, 1533, as 
" Henrici Cornelli Agrippce ab Nettesheim et Consiliis et Archivis Indltiarii 
sacrce Ccesarece Majestatis : De Occulta Philosophia, Libri Tres." There is a 
portrait on the title-page which, inasmuch as it is authenticated by the fact 
of its having been issued by himself, is the one chosen for transfer to the 
title-page of this biography. This, being the first of the Books II. and 
III., is the edition cited in succeeding notes. 

- De Occ. Phil. Lib. ii. cap. i. p. xcix. c. 3 Cap. ii. p. ci. 


with ideas in the divine mind, there should be found 
virtues greater and more occult. Even time must con- 
tain the mystery Number, so also does motion or action, 
and so, therefore, must all things that move, act, or are 
subjected to time. But the mystery is in the abstract 
power of number, in its rational and formal state 1 , not in 
the expression of it by the voice, as among people who 
buy and sell. The power of numbers has been taught 
not only by the best philosophers, but also by Catholic 
doctors, Jerome, Augustine, Origen, Ambrose, Gregory 
of Nazianzen, Athanasius, Basil, Hilary, Bede. It is 
asserted also in nature, by the herb called cinquefoil, or 
five-leaved grass ; for this resists poison, and bans devils 
by virtue of the number five, and one leaf of it taken in 
wine twice a day cures the quotidian, three the tertian, 
four the quartan fever. There is also a wonderful expe- 
rience, that every seventh son born to parents who have 
not had daughters, is able to cure the king's evil by touch 
or word alone. The Pythagoreans profess that they can 
discern many things in the numbers of names ; and if 
there did not lie herein a great mystery, St. John had not 
said in the Revelations, "He that hath understanding let 
him compute the number and name of the beast." 

Now Unity 2 is not a number, but the common measure 
and original of numbers; multiplied by itself it produceth 
nothing but itself; if divided it is not cut, but multiplied 
into parts, each of which still is unity, not more nor less. 
Therefore some call it concord or friendship, being so 

1 Cap. iii. p. cii. 2 Cap. iiii. p. ciii. 


knit that it cannot be divided ; but Martian, according to 
the opinion of Aristotle, calls it Cupid, or desire, because 
as one only and beyond itself having nothing, it bewails 
and torments itself. From one all things proceed, of one 
all things partake. In the exemplary world there is one 
God, and his name lod is written with one letter ; in the 
intellectual world there is one supreme intelligence, the 
soul of the world ; in the celestial world one king of 
stars, the sun ; in the elemental world one subject and 
instrument of all virtues, natural and supernatural, the 
philosopher's stone ; in the lesser world one first living 
and last dying, chief member of the body, the heart ; 
in the infernal world there is one Prince of Rebellion, 

Two 1 is the first number, because it is the first express- 
ing multitude ; it is the first procreation, the first form of 
parity and equity. It is called the number of science, and 
of man, the other and the lesser world ; also the number 
of charity, of marriage, and society, as it was said, They 
twain shall be one flesh. And Solomon teaches it is 
better that two be together, and woe be to him that is 
alone, because when he falls he hath not another to help 
him. Two is sometimes also regarded as the number of 
confusion and uncleanness, especially unhappy to astro- 
logers when it occurs under a saturnine or a martial influ- 
ence. Unclean beasts went by twos into the ark. Unity, 
it is said, was God; duality was a devil; therefore, say 

1 Two to ten occupy for each number a chapter, and extend, therefore, 
to cap. xiii. p. cxxxL 


the Pythagoreans, two is not a number, but a confusion of 
unities. This number, it is also reported, will cause 
fearful goblins to appear to men travelling by night. 
There is a divine name of two letters, and it may here at 
once be said that there is a divine name answering as to 
its letters to each number up to twelve, and to each 
number a certain set of things answers in the scale of 
worlds under the divine or exemplary, namely, the intel- 
lectual, celestial, elementary, lesser, and infernal. 

Three is a holy, powerful, incompounded number of 
perfection. It is the number of the trinity. Three com- 
prehends all time past, present, and future ; all space 
length, breadth, and thickness. There are three states of 
existence for a man under nature, law, and grace ; there 
are three heavenly virtues Faith, Hope, Charity; there 
are the three worlds Intellectual, Celestial, and Ele- 
mental; and in man the lesser world three parts, 
which correspond to them Brain to the Intellectual, 
Heart to the Celestial, and the viler parts to the Ele- 

But the Pythagoreans preferred before all others, as the 
fountain of nature, the number four, called the Tetractis, 
and by it they swore. It signifies solidity, and the 
foundations of all things are laid foursquare. There are 
four elements, four corners of the earth, four seasons, four 
qualities of things heat, cold, moisture, and dryness. 
Most nations have written the divine name with four 
letters. There are four evangelists, and in Revelations 


there are said to be four beasts full of eyes standing round 
about the throne. 

The number five is of no small power, inasmuch as it 
is composed of the first even and the first odd (unity not 
being regarded as a number) ; but odd is male, and even 
female. Therefore this is the number of wedlock, as the 
Pythagoreans say ; and they call it also the number of 
justice, because it divides ten, the number which contains 
all others, in an even scale. There are five senses, there 
were five wounds, and five is a number associated inti- 
mately with the cross. By this number evil demons are 
expelled, and poison is made harmless. The five-lettered 
name of the Deity is the name of omnipotence. Under 
the rule of nature, the divine trigrammaton the three- 
lettered name was used; under law, the tetragram- 
maton ; but under the rule of grace, the pentagram. 

Six is the number of perfection ; having this perfection 
in itself, shared by no other, that by the assemblage of its 
half, its third part, and its sixth part, three, two, one, it 
is made perfect. Therefore it is connected with produc- 
tion, and is called the sign of the world, for in six days 
the world was made complete. It is also the number of 
labour and servitude : for six days shalt thou labour, for 
six years shalt thou till the earth, and for six years the 
Hebrew slave obeyed his master. There are six tones 
also in all harmony, namely, five tones and two semi-tones 
making one tone, which is the sixth. 

Very many are the powers of the number seven, for it 
consists of unity and six, of two and five, of three and 


four, and absorbs into itself the dignity of its components. 
Pythagoreans have entitled it the vehicle of life, for it con- 
tains body and soul; the body is of four elements, spirit, 
flesh, bone, and humour, affected Avith four qualities, 
choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic; but the soul 
is triple, made of reason, passion, and desire. Again, from 
the moment of conception all the stages of man's life are 
performed by sevens, and with the completion of the tenth 
seven he has reached the appointed number of his years. 
The extreme heighf to which man can attain is seven feet. 
There are seven main parts of the body; beyond seven 
hours life cannot go on without breath; beyond seven 
days life cannot go on without food. The seventh days in 
disease are critical. The moon, the seventh of the planets, 
and the nearest to us, observes always this number in her 
courses. The sacred power of this number is great; it is 
the oath number, and among the Hebrews to seven meant 
to swear. It is also the number of blessing and of rest, 
for on the seventh day He rested who blessed it. It is 
also the number of purification, as was seen when Elijah 
bade the leper wash seven times in Jordan, and the 
seventh year was set aside for penitence and remission of 
sins. Seven is the number of the petitions in the Lord's 
Prayer, and it is the number not only of prayer, but also 
of praise, as says the prophet, " Seven times a day will I 
praise thee." This number is allied to twelve, for out of 
three added to four comes seven, but out of three multi- 
plied by four comes twelve. A very long list has, of 
course, to be cited of the sacred things and mysteries 


associated by the ancients generally and in Scripture witli 
the number seven. There are seven planets, seven wise 
men, seven openings in a man's head, seven angels stand- 
ing before the throne Zaphkiel, Zadkiel, Raphael, 
Camael, Haniel, Michael, Gabriel. 

Eight is, according to the Pythagoreans, the number of 
justice and plenitude. If divided it forms perfect and 
equal halves, and if twice divided there is still equality in 
its division; therefore it is the number of justice. This 
number also represents eternity and the consummation of 
the world, because it follows seven, which is the symbol 
of this life and time. Therefore, also, it is the number of 
blessedness ; and eight is the number of those who are 
declared blessed, namely, the peacemakers, those who 
hunger and thirst after righteousness, the meek, the per- 
secuted for righteousness' sake, the pure in heart, the 
merciful, the poor in spirit, they that mourn. 

Nine is the number of the muses, and of the moving 
spheres that sing in harmony together. Calliope is at- 
tached to the outer sphere, or primum mobile, Urania to 
the starry heaven, Polyhymnia to Saturn, Terpsichore to 
Jupiter, Clio to Mars, Melpomene to the Sun, Erato to 
Venus, Euterpe to Mercury, Thalia to the Moon. There 
are nine orders of blessed angels, and the number has 
occult relation to the highest mysteries, for it was at the 
ninth hour that the Holy Spirit came. Astrologers ob- 
serve nine years in a man's life ; and nine has also relation 
to imperfection, incompleteness, as wanting one of ten, 
as St. Augustine interpreted concerning the ten lepers. 


Nor are we to suppose that there is no meaning in the 
length of nine cubits ascribed to Og, King of Basan, who 
is the type of the devil. 

Ten is called the complete number, because there 
is no counting beyond it except by combinations formed 
with it and with the other numbers, of which every 
one may be obtained out of it by some form of de- 
composition. Therefore the ancients called their sacred 
ceremonies denary, initiation being preceded by ten days 
of abstinence. There were ten chords to the psalter, and 
ten instruments of music to which psalms were sung. 
The first effluence of the One source of all was ternary, 
then denary into the ten sephiroth, and there are in all 
tens the trace of a divine principle. 

The number eleven is not sacred, but twelve is divine 1 . 
Eleven exceeds the number of the commandments, and 
falls short of twelve, which is of grace or perfection ; yet 
sometimes it hath from God a gratuitous favour, as in the 
case of him who was called to the vineyard in the eleventh 
hour. Twelve is the number of signs in the Zodiac, of 
chief joints in the body of a man, of the tribes of Israel, 
of the Apostles, and of the gates of the Heavenly Jerusa- 
lem. Of the numbers above twelve 2 the mysteries are 
evolved on a like principle, and determined also by a 
reduction of them to their elements as multiples of the 
first ten. Cornelius describes the most important from 
which it will suffice to select eighteen and twenty as un- 

1 De Occ. Phil. Lib. ii. cap. xiiii. ed. cit. p. cxxx. 
2 Cap. xv. p. cxxxvi. 


fortunate, because in the former Israel served Eglon, King 
of Moab, in the other, Jacob served and Joseph was sold; 
twenty-two as the fulness of wisdom, for it is the number 
of the Hebrew letters and the number of the books of the 
Old Testament; twenty-eight as a number favoured by 
the moon; forty as the number of expiation, for in the 
time of the Deluge it rained forty days, the children of 
Israel were detained forty years in the wilderness, the 
destruction of Nineveh was put off during forty days, 
forty days fasted Moses, and Elias, and the Lord. Fifty 
signifies remission and liberty. The number a hundred, 
in which the lost sheep was found, is holy, and because it 
consists of tens, shows a complete perfection ; but the 
complement of all numbers is a thousand, which is the 
cube of the number ten, signifying a complete and abso- 
lute perfection. Plato in his Republic also celebrates two 
numbers, which are not disallowed by Aristotle in his 
Politics, namely, the square and cube of twelve, which 
last number, 1728, is fatal: to which when any city or 
commonwealth hath attained it shall decline. And let 
thus much suffice for numbers in particular. 

Certain gestures used by the magicians, seemingly ab- 
surd, are meant to express numbers by notation on the 
body 1 . Cornelius gives a set of rules from Bede, and 
refers to others in the Arithmetic of Brother Luca de 
Burgo. They are of this kind: when you would ex- 
press one, bend the little finger of the left hand over 
the palm ; when you would express a thousand, put the 

1 Cap. xvi. p. cxxxviii. 


left hand on the breast, the fingers pointing towards 
heaven ; when expressing sixty thousand, hold the left 
thigh with the left hand, fingers downwards. The next 
chapter is on the various notes of numbers used among 
the Romans, with which is set the notation commonly 
used with magical characters a cross to represent ten, a 
small horizontal line touching its lower limb to represent 
another five ; short upright strokes for units ; a circle for 
a hundred ; and the same circle placed over any of the 
before-mentioned signs to represent that number of hun- 
dreds. The next two chapters 1 describe the notation 
by letters of Greeks, Hebrews, and Chaldeans, and in- 
clude the depiction of a peculiar system of marks used for 
notation in two very ancient books of the astrologers and 

By extracting the significance of numbers from the 
letters in a name, occult truths may be discovered 2 , as was 
shown by the Pythagoreans. This is the science of Arith- 
mancy. If you desire to know the horoscope of any one, 
compute his name and that of his father and mother, add 
them and divide by twelve; if the remainder be one, he is 
under Leo ; if two, under Aquarius, &c. Let no one 
marvel at these mysteries. The Most High created all 
things by number, measure, and weight, and nothing 
that was done was casual, but all was by a certain divine 

Moreover, the Pythagoreans have attributed certain 
numbers to each god or planet, and each element 3 ; one 

1 Cap. xviii. and xix. - Cap. xx. p. cxliii. 3 Cap. xxi. p. cxliiii. 



to the sun, two to the moon, three to the three fortunate 
planets, Sun, Jupiter, Venus, and so forth ; eight to air, 
five to fire, six to earth, and twelve to water. Each of 
the seven planets has also a sacred table 1 , endowed with 
many great celestial virtues, representing the divine order 
of numbers impressed upon it by the superior Idea acting 
through the soul of the world, and the most sweet harmony 
of their celestial rays, which can be expressed only by 
images that represent the supramundane intelligences, 
and can be informed by them with their power. The 
sacred tables for each planet are then given with the 
sacred seals or signs of itself, its intelligence, and its 
demon or spirit. The tables are in squares, progressively 
enlarging ; we take as an illustration the third, that of 


























Beside this is placed a version of it in the Hebrew nota- 
tion, and beneath it these figures, the seals of Mars, 1, of 
its intelligence, 2, and of its demon, 3 : 

Cap. xxii. pp. cxlv.-cliii. 


Now, if these sacred tables and characters are engraven 
at a time when the planet is auspicious on an iron plate, or 
sword, it makes a man powerful in war and judgment, ter- 
rible to enemies ; and if they be engraved upon cornelian, 
it arrests a flow of blood ; but if the tables and characters 
be drawn when Mars is inauspicious on a plate of red 
brass, such a plate causes discord among men and beasts, 
drives away bees, pigeons, or fish, stops mills, deprives 
men of fortune in the chase, and compels the enemies of 
its possessor to submit themselves to him. 

From arithmetic we turn to geometry. Partly from the 
mystery of numbers, partly from the mystery of form, 
arises the power of geometrical figures. The circle 
answering to unity and ten, the largest and most perfect 
of lines, being indeed infinite, is judged to be most fit 
for bindings and conjurations ; whence they who adjure 


evil spirits are wont to environ themselves with a circle. 
A pentangle hath also great command over evil spirits, 
through the power of the number five, and through the 
mystery of its double set of angles, inner and outer. The 
Egyptians and Arabians affirmed the power of the cross, 
which they said is inspired with the strength of the stars, 
which strength results from the straightness of angles and 
rays ; and stars are then most potent when they occupy 
four corners of the heaven, and unite to make a cross by 
the projection of their rays. The figure of a cross hath 
also a great correspondency with the most potent numbers, 
five, seven, and nine. It is also the rightest figure of all, 
containing four right angles. The power of these signs, 
let it always Be remembered, is not in the things them- 
selves, but in the reflexion from them as it were by echo 
of the higher powers, which they attract by their cor- 
respondency and harmony. We must not pass over here 
the figures which Pythagoras and his followers assigned 
to the elements and the heavens a cube to the earth, 
a pyramid to fire, a dodecahedron to the heavens, and so 
forth. By such knowledge many wonderful things may 
be done with glasses ; and I have learnt, adds Cornelius, 
how to make glasses by which any one may see what he 
pleases at a very great distance 1 . 

From geometry we turn to the harmony of music ; and, 
in the first place, a chapter of recorded marvels 2 illustrates 

1 " Et ego novi ex illis miranda conficere, et specula in quibus quis videre 
poterit qusecunque voluerit a longissima distantia." 
9 Cap. xxiv. p. civ. 


the mighty power of sound. Then follows the ancient 
theory concerning the harmonious tones and motions of 
the heavens, with a slight discussion on the music of the 
voice, which carries subtle soul with it into the souls of 
others, the mechanism of the voice, the music of instru- 
ments, and the air as a condition necessary to the per- 
ception of all sound by human ears. After this we are 
told what sound and harmony is correspondent with each 
star 1 . Saturn, Mars, and the Moon, have more of voice 
than music : and to Saturn belong hoarse, heavy, and slow 
words and sounds ; to Mars, rough, sharp, and menacing 
ones; while there is observed by the Moon a mean between 
the two. Jupiter, the Sun, Venus, and Mercury, possess 
harmonies : those of Jupiter are grave, sober, and yet 
pleasant ; those of Mercury, more careless, various, merry, 
and pleasant, with a certain boldness. The ancients, who 
used four strings only, assigned them to the four elements ; 
the bass was earth, then followed water and fire, and air 
was the treble. This part of the book goes very minutely 
into the correspondence of the musical laws with all the 
harmonies of nature, explains the belief that a harmonious 
set of musical intervals will denote the distances between 
the planets, and discovers also a musical harmony in the 
relations of the elements to one another. A chapter of 
some length, illustrated with seven woodcuts 2 , then dis- 
plays some of the proportion and harmony in a man's 
body ; and a chapter follows that, upon the harmony of 
the soul. Man is the most perfect work of God, the sum 

1 Cap. xxvi. p. clviii. 2 Cap. xxvii. p. clx. 

VOL. I. N 


and image of the lesser world ; in whom, therefore, with 
the most perfect harmony, are contained all numbers, 
measures, weights, motions, and elements. On the number 
of his fingers has arithmetic been built ; measures and 
proportions were invented from his very joints ; temples 
and palaces, by divine order the Ark of Noah, have been 
constructed in proportion to man's body, which is the 
microcosm, or lesser world, that images the macrocosm, 
or whole fabric. There is no sign or star that has 
not correspondence with some part of man. The whole 
measure tends to roundness ; yet again, let a man stretch 
out his arms, and his feet, head, and hands touch the four 
sides of a perfect square. Let him stand within the cir- 
cumference of a circle, with his feet so much parted and 
his arms so much raised as that feet, fingers, and head 
touch its circumference, then by these parts is there de- 
scribed within that circle a perfect pentagon. Man is next 
shown in various other positions, which display the geo- 
metrical and arithmetical harmony of his proportions. A 
very minute detail of proportions follows, which descends 
even to such particulars as that the second joint of the 
middle finger is in length equal to the distance from the 
lower lip to the bottom of the chin. There are also 
proportions of solid form, proportions of musical harmony, 
proportions of weight (in a sound man, eight of blood, 
four of phlegm, two of choler, one of melancholy). 

The motions, also, of the members of men's bodies answer 
to the celestial motions, and every man hath in himself the 


motion of his heart, which answers to the motion of the sun, 
and, being diffused through the arteries into the whole body, 
signifies by a most sure rule, years, months, days, hours, 
and minutes. Moreover, there is a certain nerve found 
by the anatomists about the nod of the neck, which being 
touched doth so move all the members of the body, that 
every one of them stirs according to its proper motion; 
by which like touch Aristotle thinks the members of 
the world are moved by God. The application of the 
same rule of harmony to the several parts of the mind is 
made on the same principle, but with less fulness of 

We turn next to the harmonies of the celestial bodies. 
No magical work is to be undertaken without observa- 
tion of them 1 , and particularly, in all works, of the moon, 
also of Mercury the messenger between the higher and 
the lower gods, who when he is with the good increases 
goodness, and when with the bad increases evil. "When 
planets are most powerful in exaltation, or triplicity, or 
term, or face and how to observe and know the temper 
of the fixed stars, Cornelius discusses in the next two 
chapters, after which we get specially to the sun and 
moon, and to their magical considerations 2 . They rule the 
heavens, and all under them ; the sun, lord of the elements, 
the moon, mistress of increase and decrease. The sun is 
consonant to God ; in its essence is the Father imaged, in 
its light the Son, and in its heat the Holy Ghost. But the 

1 Cap. xxix. p. clxxi. 2 Cap. xxxii. p. cxliiii. 

N 2 


moon, as the receptacle of heavenly influences, and as it 
were the wife of all the stars, is nearest to the earth, on 
which she pours the superior influences which she hath re- 
ceived; and by this planet, on account of her familiarity 
and propinquity, a stronger influence is exercised on the 
inferiors that here receive her power in a stream. 

Now to the moon, measuring the whole zodiac in twenty- 
eight days, there were appointed by the wise men of the 
Indians and most ancient astrologers twenty-eight man- 
sions 1 , and in each the moon obtaineth some especial 
power. The first is called Alnath, or the Ram's Horns ; 
its beginning is from the head of Aries, and it causes dis- 
cords, journeys. The second is Allothaim, or Albochan, 
the Ram's Belly; its beginning is from the twelfth degree 
of the same sign, fifty-one minutes, twenty-two seconds ; 
it conduces to the finding of treasures, the retaining 
of captives. In this manner Cornelius goes on to define 
the whole twenty mansions, in which lie hidden many 
secrets of the wisdom of the ancients, by the which they 
wrought wonders on all things that are under the circle of 
the moon ; and they attributed to every mansion its re- 
semblances, images, and seals, and its presiding intelli- 
gences, and they did work by the virtue of them after 
divers manners. 

It is necessary, also, to observe the true movements of 
the heavenly bodies in the eighth sphere, and to take 
note of the planetary hours 2 , the hours of a day being 
apportioned successively by astrologers to planets, begin- 

2 Cap. xxxiii. p. cxlv. - Cap. xxxiiii. p. cxlvi. 


ning with the one that is lord of the day. Thirteen 
chapters 1 follow on the images by which power may be 
drawn from planets, stars, signs of the zodiac, and houses 
of the moon. All images are powerful ; St. Thomas 
Aquinas says, in his book De Fato, that even garments, 
houses, fountains, do by their form receive a certain quali- 
fication from the stars. So certain, images on seals, ring?, 
glasses, do bring certain powers down, and that most effica- 
ciously, if such seals, rings, or glasses be made at a fit 
time of material fitly chosen. The stars in the heavens 
form traceable images that have been set down by the 
Egyptians, Indians, and Chaldeans, who have for this 
reason placed twelve general images in the circle of the 
zodiac. The pictures of such signs acting in suitable 
triplicities, are powerful : thus, Cancer, Scorpio, and 
Pisces, because they constitute the watery and northern 
triplicity, prevail against dry and hot fevers. Then there 
are also thirty-six images placed in the zodiac according 
to the number of its faces ; Cornelius describes each, and 
states what its power is. Thus, in the first face of Aries, 
ascends the image of a black man, clothed in a white 
garment, large-bodied, reddish-eyed, strong, and display- 
ing anger. This image signifies and causes boldness, for- 
titude, loftiness and shamelessness. Each planet has a 
variety of images, and for the power of each image it is 
proper to depict it on a stated sort of stone, metal, &c. Each 
image so depicted represents and exerts one of the virtues 
of the planet. Thus, Saturn ascending, draw upon a Ipad- 

1 Cap. xxxv.-xlvii. pp. clxxvi.-clxxxix. 


stone Saturn as a man -with a stag's face, and camel's 
feet, carrying a scythe in his right hand, a dart in his left, 
and sitting on a dragon ; that image was expected to be pro- 
fitable for the lengthening of life. An image of Saturn 
on cast metal, as a beautiful man, was promised to foretel 
things to come. The Egyptians and Phoenicians did use 
also a certain image 1 , the head and tail of the dragon of 
the moon (cause of its eclipses), to introduce, where it was 
worn, anguish, infirmity, and misfortune. They made 
also images for every mansion of the moon; as, for 
example, in the first, for the destruction of some one, they 
made in an iron ring the image of a black man in a 
garment of hair and girdled, casting a small lance with his 
right hand ; they sealed this in black wax, and perfumed 
it with liquid storax, and wished some evil to come. Cor- 
nelius specifies in the same way the images used for the 
other twenty-seven mansions. He adds the images used 
to obtain virtue from the chief of the fixed stars, or con- 
stellations : as, under the Pleiades, they made the image 
of a little maiden, or the figure of a lamp ; its power was 
said to increase the light of the eyes, to raise winds, as- 
semble spirits, reveal secret things. 

There are other figures formed out of arrangements of 
stars which are ascribed to elements, planets, and heavenly 
signs, which have like power to that of images, and which 
are described in books on Geornancy. Cornelius shows 
some of them to his reader. 

Two chapters follow upon the magical use of images 

1 Cap. xlviii. p. clxxxix. 


not drawn after celestial figures 1 , but according to the 
worker's thought : as when to procure love one makes 
images embracing one another, to procure damage, broken 
images of that which we would destroy, all which Albertus 
Magnus describes in his Speculum. Such images are made 
diversely and sometimes buried, sometimes hung on a tree 
to wave in the wind, sometimes within a chimney to be 
smoked, sometimes kept with the head downwards and 
sometimes with the head up. The art of making these is 
astrological. Thus, for gain, let there be made an image 
under the ascendant of the nativity of the man, or under 
the ascension of that place to which you would appoint 
the gain, and you must make the lord of the second 
house, which is in the house of substance, to be joined 
with the lord of the ascendant in the trine or sextile, 
and let there be a reception amongst them ; you must 
make fortunate the eleventh and the lord thereof, and, if 
you can, put part of the fortune in the ascendant or second; 
and let the image be buried in that place, or carried from 
that place, to which you would appoint the gain. 

The next chapter 2 is on characters, deduced out of geo- 
mantical figures from the true characters of the heavens, 
which are the writing of the angels, Malachim, describing 
in the sky all things to the man competent to read. There 
are also characters not taken from celestials, but adapted, 
as in the case of images lately described, to a thought of 
them within the mind 3 . In this way, the characters of the 

1 Cap. xlix. L, pp. cxci.-cxciiil - Cap. li. p. cxciiii. 

3 Cap. lii. p. cxcvi. 


Ram and Bull were taken from their horns, <yi ^, that of 
Aquarius from waters, y, and so with the rest. And the 
sign of Saturn was deduced from a sickle, that of Jupiter 
from a sceptre, that of Mars from a bolt of war, of Venus 
from a looking-glass, of Mercury from a wand. In the 
same way characters have been formed to represent various 
combinations of signs, stars, and natures. 

Of all operations in occult science there is not one that 
is not rooted in astrology 1 , of which science, since " huge 
volumes are everywhere extant," Cornelius does not think 
it necessary to detail the principles. By the use of dice 
made under certain celestial influences future destinies may 
be divined. Nor is it a blind chance that works in divi- 
nation by lot 3 , by throwing cockles, opening a page of 
Virgil, or in other ways. For, as the Platonists teach, 
accident can be in no case the prime sufficient cause, we 
must look higher, and find out, therefore, in these matters, 
a cause which may know and govern the effect. Now this 
is not material but immaterial, and may be in men's souls, 
in departed spirits, in celestial intelligences, or in God 
himself. The power of man's own mind strongly exerted 
may control dead matter and direct the lot aright, but 
lest such exertion proved too weak, the ancients were 
used, before the casting of the lot, by sacred performances 
to summon the divine intelligences to their aid. 

Now the heavens cannot exercise so many influences as 
a mere body, but they must be animated by a living soul, 
and upon the soul of the world depends the vigour of 

1 Cap. liii. p. cxcviii. - Cap. liiii. p. cxcix. 


inferior things. This doctrine has been held by the poets 
and philosophers 1 , and is confirmed by reason 2 . The 
World has a soul and, as it was said in the former book, 
also a spirit. For it would be absurd to assume life in parts 
of the world, as flies and worms, and to deny life and soul 
to the entire world as a most perfect and noble body ; to 
say that heavens, stars, elements give life and soul to 
things below, yet themselves have not that which they 
give. The soul of the world and the celestial souls partake 
of the divine reason 3 . The -reason of terrene things is 
in the earth, of watery things in the water, each part 
works in its place, and hurts made in each are by itself 
repaired. Shall we, having reason, say that souls higher 
than ours have it not; and when, as saith Plato, the 
world is made by very Goodness itself, as well as it was 
possible to make it, shall we deny that it is endowed with 
not only life, sense, reason, but also with understanding. 
For the perfection of the body is the soul ; and that body 
is more perfect which hath a more perfect soul. It is 
necessary, then, seeing celestial bodies are most per- 
fect, that they have also most perfect minds. They 
partake, therefore, of an intellect and a mind. This also 
the Platonists prove by the perseverance of their order 
and tenor ; because motion is of its nature free, it may 
easily swerve and wander now one way, now another, 
unless it be ruled by an intellect and a mind, and that 
also by a perfect mind foreseeing from the beginning the 
best way and chief end. " For bodies resist not a most 
1 Cap. lv. p. cc. 2 Cap. Ivi. p. cci. * Cap. Ivii. p. ccii. 


powerful soul, and a perfect mind doth not change its 
counsel." So writes the youth; and who shall scorn him 
if he saw a living soul bestowed by God where we see 
what we are too apt to forget ourselves in thinking are 
dead laws of divine ordinance ? Thus he goes on : " The 
soul of the world, therefore, is a certain one thing filling 
all things, bestowing all things, binding and knitting 
together all things, that it might make one frame of the 
world, and that it might be, as it were, one instrument, 
making of many strings one music, sounding from three 
kinds of creatures, intellectual, celestial, and incorruptible, 
with one only breath and life." 

Then follows a chapter on the Orphic names of the 
celestial spirits ruling man 1 names, says Cornelius, not 
"of evil deceiving spirits, but of natural and divine 
powers, distributed to the world by the true God, for the 
service and profit of man, who knows how to use them." 
Then follows a chapter of the epithets and various names 
given to each of the seven governors of the world, the 
Planets, in magical speech 3 ; chiefly they are those used by 
Latin poets. Finally, in the sixtieth and last chapter of 
his second book of Occult Science, Cornelius shows how, 
by his aspiration towards, and his invocation of, superior 
things, man may ascend into the intelligible world, and 
become like to the more sublime spirits and intelligences. 
He represents man, as it were, ascending Jacob's ladder, 
on which angels throng, striving to reach to the thoughts 
and to the purity of those who are above it, at the very 

1 Cap. Iviii. p. cciii. - Cap. lix. p. cciiii. 


gate of heaven ; seeking to strike one end of the chord of 
harmony which runs through spiritual realms, each one 
holier and purer than the last, and which shall vibrate at 
length even with his thought before the throne of God. 
He teaches that we must aspire upward, but even upward 
only to the souls of things ; not to the visible glory of the 
sun, the king of stars, but to the soul of it, and become 
like to it, and comprehend the intelligible light thereof 
with an intellectual sight, as the sensible light with a 
corporeal eye. But while seeking this, his closing counsel 
is, that " in the first place we must implore assistance from 
the First Author, and pray not only with the mouth but 
with a religious gesture and a supplicating soul also 
abundantly, incessantly, sincerely that He would en- 
lighten our minds, and remove the darkness gathering 
upon our souls by reason of our bodies." 




EARNEST thoughts closed Cornelius Agrippa's Second 
Book of Magic, and an earnest theme engages him 
throughout the third. It is upon the secrets of religion. 
He begins with an exaltation of piety 1 , passes then to an 
enforcement of the rule of silence 2 , observed in all ages as 
to the most sacred mysteries, and accepts the necessity of 
a reticence on his own part as regards the most occult and 
sacred of the truths that wisdom has discovered. The 
student of magic must by the same rule secrete, and more 
than that, must dignify himself 3 by a forsaking of all 
sensual pleasures, and by seeking all means that encourage 
high and holy contemplation, so that he may purify and 
exalt his intellect, while he at the same time purifies and 
subdues his flesh, avoiding contact with unclean things, 
taking part with a true reverence and with a strong 
faith in all rites of the Church, and labouring in all things 
to become as meet as man may be for the companionship 
of angels. Magical operations are ruled by Religion or 

1 De Occ. Phil, Lib. iii. cap. i. (ed. cit) p. ccix. * Cap. ii. p. ccix. 
3 Cap. iii. p. ccxi. 


by Superstition 1 . Religion is a steady contemplation of 
divine things, and the uniting of oneself with God by 
good works and household worship. It is obedience to 
the Church as a mother, and to God as a father, from 
whom all benefits are taken, as saith the Rabbi Henitia, 
by theft if not with thanks. It is obedience to the 
teacher of the nations, who said, " Whatsoever you shall 
do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, giving thanks to him, and to God the Father by 
him." Every religion has in it something good, for it is 
directed to our Father and Creator; and though God 
allows of one religion only, yet he leaves not unrewarded 
those who have performed the chief duty of man, if not 
in deed, yet in intention. Now worship that is different 
from true religion, or that imitates its forms but contains 
not its true meaning, is superstition, as in the excommu- 
nication of locusts, and the baptism of bells. And by this 
method, through a strong will and belief, Avonders may be 
worked, superstition working by credulity as true religion 
works by faith. But in superstition there is evil, and the 
danger of yet more evil. If in this book superstitious 
practices are described, they are here set down only as 
records of error from which to elicit truth. 

Religion has three guides 2 Love, Hope, and Faith. 
Love is the chariot of the soul love brings us near to 
God, gives power to our prayers. Belief that is faith is 
above science, as belief that is credulity is below science. 
It is the root of miracles, and there is nothing incredible 
1 Cap. iiii. p. ccxiii. " Cap. v. p. ccxv. 


for him who believes all things to be possible with God. 
Therefore, our mind being pure and divine, inflamed with 
a religious love, adorned with hope, by faith directed, 
placed on the height and summit of the human soul, 
draws truth down from above. So we, though natural, 
come to perceive things that are above nature, and by 
religion alone a man may attain to power over spiritual 
things and shall work miracles 1 . But if he works them 
by the sole strength of his spiritual virtue, if he persevere 
in such work, he cannot live long, but is absorbed by 
the divine power. And whoso attempts this, being im- 
pure, brings judgment down on his own head, and is 
delivered over to the evil spirit to be devoured. No 
wonders can be worked by him who knows not that there 
is a supreme God 3 ; and among the heathens Jupiter was 
the name of the great king who produced the soul of the 
world, while other gods were secondary gods, or second 
causes. Augustine and Porphyry testify that the Platonists 
recognised three persons in God 3 the Father, the Son, or 
first mind, and the Spirit, or soul of the world. Agrippa's 
chapter on this subject contains a curious account of the 
different forms of belief concerning the divine nature, re- 
corded as having been entertained of old time in various 
parts of the world, and of the references in them to the 
Son and Spirit. The next chapter 4 devoutly states, in 
words appointed by the Church, what is the creed of 
" the catholic doctors and faithful people of God." 

1 Cap. vL-p. ccxvi. 2 Cap. vii. p. ccxix. 3 Cap. viii. p. ccxxi. 
4 Cap. ix. p. ccxxiii. 


The tenth chapter of the third book having identified 
the heathen deities with attributes called by the Hebrews 
Numerations, showing analogies between the Orphic 
Hymns and the Cabala, proceeds to describe the ten 
sephiroth and the ten divine names appertaining to them. 
Then follows a cabalistical chapter on the divine names, 
and the power of them, including notice of the mystical 
properties of certain sacred words with which even the 
Pythagoreans could heal diseases of the mind or body. 
Also Serenus Samonicus delivers, among precepts of 
physic, that if the word Abracadabra be written as is here 









b r\a\ 









b r | 












































paper or parchment so inscribed, and hung about the 
neck, will cure all kinds of fever. But Rabbi Hama, in 
his book on Speculation, gives a sacred seal, composed of 
divine names, more efficacious, since it cures all diseases 



and heals all griefs whatsoever. The obverse and reverse 
of it are as here depicted : 


But all this must be written by a most holy man on the 
purest gold or virgin parchment, with ink made of the 
smoke of incense or of consecrated waxlights mixed with 
holy water. It must be used with an infallible faith, a 
constant hope, and a mind lifted to communion with 
Heaven. Neither let any man marvel at this power of 
sacred words, through which God worked in the creation. 
The influence of divine names flowing through middle 
causes into all inferior things 1 is next discussed, and it is 
shown how modern -cabalists among the Hebrews cannot 
work the marvels that their fathers worked, because all 
things are now obedient to the one divine name, which 
they do not recognise. The ascription in Scripture of 
the names of limbs to the diverse and manifold powers that 
abide in God is next illustrated 2 . Man, it is said, is 
made in the divine image, with such limbs as representa- 
tives of the divine powers, as signs between which there 
is kept just order and proportion; whence the Mecubals 
of the Hebrews say, that if a man capable of the divine 
influence do make any member of his body clean and 
free from filthiness, then it becomes the habitaculum and 
proper seat of the secret limb of God and of the power 
thereby designated. The next chapter is on the gods of 
the ancients, as described by their philosophers, and de- 
tails the several places and countries consecrated to them. 
It is then shown 3 that the Catholic Church believes the 
stars to be not themselves animated, but peopled by cer- 

1 Cap. xiL p. ccxxxiiL * Cap. xiiL p. ccxxxiiii. 

1 Cap. xv. p. ccxxxviiL 
VOL. I. 


tain divine souls not free from the stain of sin. Upon 
this topic various authorities are quoted. 

But of intelligences, angels, and infernal or subter- 
ranean spirits 1 , there are angels supercelestial, who work 
only near the throne ; angels celestial, who rule over the 
spheres, and are divided as to order and nature, according 
to the stars over which they have rule. Finally, there is 
a third class of angels, who are ministers of grace below, 
attend invisibly upon us, protect us, help or hinder us, as 
they consider fit. These are divided also into four orders, 
according with the four elements and the four powers 
mind, reason, imagination, and activity. There are angels 
of places, as of woods and mountains, whence the heathen 
drew ideas of gods; and there are angels diurnal, noc- 
turnal, or meridional. There are as many legions of 
these angels, it is said, as there are stars in heaven, and in 
each legion as many spirits. Augustine and Gregory say 
that an equal number of unclean spirits correspond to 
them. Some other interpretations are given of their 
number and nature; after which the youth writes again 
an orthodox chapter, to correct any appearances of heresy, 
inscribed " Of these according to the Theologians." The 
next is a long chapter on the various or.ders of devils, 
which, as the subject was a dangerous one in a book on 
what would be denounced as the black art, is theological 
throughout, but shows a difference of opinion among 
theologians as to their origin and classification. Some 
think they are all fallen from light, others describe them 

1 Cap. xvi. p. ccxxxiiii. 


as all black, and arrange them in nine companies, to the 
third of which belongs " that devil Theutus, who taught 
cards and dice;" while of the six demons of the air, the 
chief prince of the power of the air is "Meririm: he 
is the meridian devil, a boiling spirit, a devil raging in 
the south." Inquest is then held upon the bodies of 
devils 1 . The next chapter is on the annoyance caused by 
creatures of this sort, and upon the way of obtaining by 
a pure and holy life the sympathy and aid of purer spirits 
who excel them in authority and power. It is then 
shown that, by paying regard to the kind of good genius 
we desire, whether solary or jovial, or any other, we may 
seek its special help, and have from it help only according 
to the influences in connexion with which it exists. 

Every man hath a threefold demon 2 : one holy, which 
directs the soul and puts good thoughts into the mind; 
one of nativity his genius descending from the stars 
which ruled his birth: and some think that the soul as it 
comes down into the body chooses and brings with it a 
genius for guide : they who have a fortunate genius are, 
it is said, born to good luck; the third demon that 
attends a man is that of profession, namely, one pertaining 
to the profession that he makes of sect or calling secretly 
desired by his mind, and chosen when the mind is able to 
take dispositions on itself. According to the nobleness of 
the profession and a man's earnestness therein is the dignity 
and power of his demon ; and should he change his pro- 
fession, he must change his demon also. If a profession 

1 Cap. xix. p. ccxh-fi. * Cap. xrii. p. cclii. 



suit my nature, then its demon agrees with my genius, and 
my inner life is the more peaceable, my outer life more 
prosperous. If I undertake a profession contrary to my 
genius, I shall be troubled with disagreeing guides and 
helpers. Let me know, therefore, my good genius and 
what its nature is. Having found in what path it is 
most able to lead me forward, let me direct my thoughts 
chiefly to that. Jacob excelled in strength, Phineas in 
zeal, Solomon in knowledge, Peter in faith, John in 
charity, Magdalen in contemplation, Martha in officious- 
ness. Follow not, however, the bent of thy genius if it 
disagree with thy profession, when that is holiest and best 
which the demon of nativity opposes, that mean which it 
seeks. Follow the better path, and thou shalt at some 
time perceive that it is well. 

The means by which angels converse are called the 
tongues of angels 1 by Saint Paul; we know not how they 
speak, or how they hear, yet there is a spiritual body pos- 
sessed by a demon, everywhere sensible, that can drink 
knowledge in at every pore, as sponges drink in water. 
Then follows a chapter containing the names of spirits 
and their addresses ; that is to say, the names of the stars, 
signs, elements, and corners of the heaven in which they 
dwell as masters. 

The twenty-fifth chapter is on the cabalistical method 
of deducing names of angels out of Sacred Writ, and in- 
cludes those tables used for the commutation of letters, 
whereof the use is known already to the reader. A method 

1 Cap. xxiii. p. ccliiii. 


is then explained of finding out the names of spirits from 
the stars, by fitting the shape of a Hebrew letter over such 
of them as it will cover. Some tables are then given and 
explained, which show how to calculate the names of 
spirits written in the sky, by a strange index compounded 
of Hebrew characters and planetary or zodiacal signs 1 . 
There is a way of naming spirits from the stars or signs 
over which they are set, as from Aries, Ariel, which is 
in other languages than Latin, Teletiel, Betuliel, Masniel, 
and so forth, all these names being used, but those formed 
from the most sacred languages most potent. 

The next three chapters are upon sacred characters, 
which contain, in a form mystical to us, divine knowledge 
and power. They are ancient hieroglyphics, whereof 
the origin is figurative; characters, or letters, found by 
cabalists among the stars; as well as two other alpha- 
bets used by them, one of them called Malachim, and one 
the Passing of the River. They also divide the twenty- 
seven Hebrew letters into three classes and nine chambers 
representing mysteries, blend and again dissect them. 
But let it be understood that spirits are pure intellect, 
and cannot be marked with any figures, nor do any marks 
we make belong to them, or draw them, as marks only; 
but we take those marks to represent their spiritual 
power, and by strong belief and veneration, growing to 
ecstatical adoration of the pure intelligences we have so 
expressed, we give life from our own soul to our material 
expression, and, by undoubting hope and love, do in the 

1 Cap. xxv. p. cclvL 


spirit and in truth receive the influences we desire. 
Some of these characters have not been deduced by any 
of the means aforesaid, but communicated by direct reve- 
lation, as when the sign of the cross was shown to Con- 
stantine with the inscription, " In hoc vince." 

The summoning of good spirits is easier than the dis- 
missal of them, and it is not difficult, by certain forms 
and the use of herbs or music suitable, in places fre- 
quented by them, to cause the spirits that are always 
near the earth to appear. Such are the fairies of the 
fields, the naiads of the streams, the nymphs of the 
ponds and marshes, the dodonse who live in acorns, and 
the paleae who lurk in fodder. They are easily allured, 
most easily by those who are single-minded, innocent, 
and credulous, wherefore they are seen most commonly 
by children, women, and poor rustics. They are not 
offensive to the good, but noxious to the wicked ; and all 
the more evil sort may be made impotent by those who 
meet them with a strength of right more perfect than 
their strength of wrong. Of adjurations, of the spirits 
corresponding to objects of old hero-worship, called ani- 
mastical or by the Hebrew theologians, Issiin of mortal 
and terrestrial gods, the next chapters speak 1 ; and then is 
discussed the creation of man in the Divine image, a long 
chapter, to which the theologians and cabalists contri- 
bute something, Plato more the world the image of God, 
and man the image of the world. The spirit of it has 
been expressed already in this sketch of Agrippa's doc- 

1 Caps. xxxuL-xaacy. pp. cclxxx.-cclxxxiii. 


trine. In what way body and soul are joined by the 
celestial vehicle in which the soul at first descends, and 
which some call the chariot of the soul, is then explained 
with curious minuteness. Then man's body having been 
formed, and the soul joined to it, we are shown 1 what 
gifts are streamed into it, through several planets, and 
how the temperament, whether mercurial or jovial, is de- 
termined. It is shown, also, what gifts come from the 
thrones, what from the dominations, what from the che- 
rubim, or rather, what through each of these from God. 

Chapter the thirty-ninth treats of the origin of evil. 
How can evil come from a good source? It does not, any 
more than blear eyes are the fault of light, display the fault 
of justice. Evil material receiving holy influences turns 
them to its hurt; but this is due not to the error of the 
superiors, but to the baser and corruptible material of the 
inferiors; and the corrupt element in a man's soul is sin. 
Only because of this can Saturn, with a holy ray, dispose 
to anguish, obstinacy, blasphemy; or Mars excite to arro- 
gance and wrath. If the ray worked on a pure soul, not 
upon the sin in an impure one, nothing grievous would 
arise out of its operation; Saturn would make sound 
heads steadier, and Mars warm generous hearts. 

Again, there is a divine character imprinted upon each 
of us 2 , whereby we may work marvels. Animals shrink 
from the bold front of man, and elephants have obeyed 
even children. Therefore this character is imprinted on 
man from the divine idea which the cabalists call Pahad. 

1 Cap. xxxviii. p. ccxc. * Cap. si. p. ccxciii. 


That is the seal by which a man is feared. There is also 
another seal imprinted upon some, by reason of which 
they inspire love. That is called Hesed. 

The next is the longest chapter in the whole work, 
upon a topic that had been overlaid by the speculations 
of all ages. It is entitled " What concerning man after 
death ; diverse opinions." Perceptions of the truth pro- 
bably exist in the opinions of the ancients. As he who 
lives by the sword, shall, it was said, die by the sword, 
so do the deaths of many answer to their lives, and so does 
the state of all men after death. Yet do the cabalists 
refuse the doctrine of Pythagoras, that souls which have 
become bestial take bestial forms ; they say, on the con- 
trary, that they return to earth in human frames, and 
thrice have the opportunity of life thus granted them. 
Sometimes the souls of the wicked reanimate their pol- 
luted corpses, as places of punishment. Such power evil 
spirits have. But when the body returns earth to earth, 
the spirit returns to God that gave it, and this spirit is 
the mind, the pure intelligence that was incapable of sin 
while in the flesh, however sinned against by passions of 
the soul and gross delusions of the body. Then if the 
soul has lived justly it accompanies the mind, and soul 
and mind together work in the world the righteous will 
of God, partaking of his power. But the souls that have 
done evil, parted after death from the mind, wander with- 
out intelligence, subject to all the wild distresses of un- 
regulated passion, and by the affinity they have acquired 
for the grossness of corporeal matter, assimilate to them- 


selves and condense, as in a fog, material particles, 
through which they become sensible again of bodily pain 
and discomfort. It is believed also that the souls of just 
Christians preach to the souls of the just Pagans salvation 
in the name of Christ. Of this tenor seems to be the 
belief of Cornelius ; he speaks of manes, lares, and 
lemures, but with those Christians who revel in gross 
images of vindictive torture after death he shows no sym- 
pathy at all. He sees the sorest punishment to the base 
soul in its own baseness; and as to the literal interpreta- 
tion of the fires of hell, he quotes with a marked approba- 
tion these words of Augustine: "It is better to be in 
doubt concerning secret things than to dispute about 
them as uncertain. I do not doubt, for example, that we 
are to believe that rich man to be in the heat of suffering, 
and that poor Lazarus in the cool shade of joy; but what 
I am to understand by that infernal fire, that bosom of 
Abraham, that tongue of the rich, that finger of the poor, 
that thirst of the tormented, that drop by which it can be 
cooled, will scarcely be discovered by the patience of re- 
search, never by the impatience of contention." 

Souls after death remember the past, and retain accord- 
ing to their nature more or less of attraction towards the 
bodies they inhabited, or other flesh and blood. This is 
most true of those souls whose bodies are unburied, or 
were subject to violence ; as in the case of malefactors, and 
about places of execution, or places where slain bodies 
lie, many such spirits collect by choice, and more are 
banned to them. Therefore, in evoking spirits of the 


dead 1 , such places are to be chosen, or churchyards or 
other ground, to which these spirits most resort; and in 
the incantation flesh and blood must be used, taken from 
a person killed by violence, since it is with corporeal 
vapours, also with eggs, milk, honey, oil, and flour, that 
departed souls are drawn as by the renewal of a broken 
link. Now they who use such conjurations, because they 
perform wonders only by or upon corpses, are called 
Necromancers; and there are two kinds of necromancy 
necyomantia, when a corpse is animated ; scyomantia, 
when only a shade is summoned. But for the reunion of 
souls with bodies occult knowledge is required, to which 
no man, except by the direct gift of Heaven, can attain. 

The next chapter 2 is on the power of the soul, which 
consists of mind, reason, and idolum. The mind, of 
which the light proceeds from God, illuminates the 
reason, which again flows into the idolum, the power 
which gives life to the body, receives sensations, and pro- 
cures for the thoughts bodily expression. In the idolum, 
again, are two powers phantasy, before described, and 
diffused natural sense. Now the mind only is, by nature, 
divine, eternal; the reason is airy, durable; the idolum, 
more corporeal, left to itself, perishes. And of the divine 
light, which is communicated not to all men in the same 
degree 3 , by efforts of pious aspiration some men have 
obtained so full a ray, that it has poured through the 
reason into the subtle substance of the idolum, and has 

1 Cap. xlii. p. ccciiii. * Capi xuji p> cccyi 

3 Cap. xliiu. p. cccis. 


become manifest in its more corporeal essence, as with a 
visible radiance, so that the whole body, or the nobler 
part of it, appears to shine. So shone the face of Moses 
when he came down from the mountain; so have the 
saints also been sometimes transfigured. Yet there are 
some men altogether destitute of mind, and their souls 
wanting the immortal part must perish, though they are 
to be joined to their bodies again in the resurrection. 
Happy is he who can increase the light of heaven in his 
mind, for by it he can work marvels. Cornelius dwells 
again on the power that grows out of holy purpose, 
earnest striving, and shows by an instance how the soul 
may rise superior to bodily concernment. Anaxarchus 
being thrown into a stone basin, and pounded with iron 
pestles by order of the tyrant of Cyprus, is said to have 
cried "Pound away, pound away at my dress; you have 
not yet bruised Anaxarchus." Thereupon the tyrant 
ordering his tongue to be cut out, the philosopher imme- 
diately bit it off and spat it into the tyrant's face. 

Eight chapters follow 1 upon various forms of prophetic 
power. There is such power by vacation of the body 
when the spirit is enabled to transcend its bounds, and as 
a light escaped from a lantern to spread over space ; and 
there is the descent of a divine power imparting itself to 
the mind. These forms of it are seen in prophetic fury, 
in rapture, and in prophetic dreams. The fury is a 
celestial illumination obtained by liberation of the mind 
from the restrictions of the body; and the philosophers 

1 Cap. xlv.-lii. p. cccs.-cccsxii 


have described four forms of it. One proceeds from the 
muses. Each of the nine muses gives prophetic power to 
a certain class of objects; the muses act severally through 
the seven planets, the whole heaven of stars, and the 
primum mobile, or universal sphere. The last gives power 
to the most occult mysteries and intelligences; the lowest, 
which acts through the moon, gives the prophetic powers 
that are found sometimes even in stocks and stones. The 
second of these furies proceeds from Dionysos, the third 
from Apollo, and the fourth from Venus ; each is de- 
scribed from the writings of the ancients. Then are de- 
scribed rapture and ecstasy, which represent the power 
of the soul by a continued yearning heavenward from a 
pure body, to be carried out of its house in the flesh, to 
stand apart from it for a certain time, pervading, as a 
light pervades the air, all space, and with space compre- 
hending all time also. Of prophetic dreams there are 
four kinds: those which occur in the morning between 
sleeping and waking, those which relate to another person, 
those which include in the dream its own interpretation, 
and, lastly, those which are repeated, as said Joseph, " for 
that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is 
because the thing is established by God, and God will 
shortly bring it to pass." But with prophetical dreams 
there is more or less of accidental and vain matter always 
mixed; neither is any dream prophetical except by the 
influence of the celestials, with whom alone is knowledge 
of the future ; and he who would divine by dreams, must 
sleep on a clean bed in a pure chamber that has been 


exorcised and sanctified, his body must be free from the 
vapours of gross food and from the distorting influence 
of sin. Retiring so to rest he must pray for the counsel 
he desires, and if his faith suffice he will obtain it. There 
is a prophetical power also in the casting of lots and other 
such observations, which the ancient fathers used, but 
never lightly or irreverently, since they could obtain an 
omen from on high, not from the dead matter used, but 
by the power of pure souls desiring knowledge through it. 
Thus it appears that sacred oracles can be received 
only by those who have rightly disciplined their souls and 
bodies, and who make use of all sacred rites appointed for 
the strengthening of virtue. To show in what this disci- 
pline consists is the remaining purpose of the book. The 
spirit of it is that which we have seen animating the 
whole body of doctrine. Man is the temple of the Deity : 
he can attain to nothing worthy without striving step by 
step upon the way to purity 1 , subduing all those powers 
of the flesh that war against the soul, engaged in constant 
contemplation of divine perfection, constant effort to 
approach it. To purify himself he must become in all 
things clean 2 , most clean of all in heart and soul. He 
must not exceed the necessities of the body, he must be 
abstinent from all that overclouds the mind, temperate in 
all things, and dwell much apart from the animal crowd of 
men in contemplation of celestial things, of angels and 
intelligences, working out the will of God 3 . But the 

1 Cap. liil p. cccxxii. Cap. liiii. p. cccxxffi. 

Cap. Iv. p. cccxxv. 


chief part of inward purification is repentance 1 , as even 
Seneca has said in Phyeste, that the man who repents is 
almost innocent. There is also abundant evidence in 
Scripture of the efficacy of almsgiving upon which the 
philosophers appear to have said little or nothing. 

Upon the consideration of these means of inward purifi- 
cation follow a few chapters on extrinsic lielps, as by the 
ministries of the church, baptism, exorcism, benediction; 
and it appears certain that material things can become active 
even on the soul, as with that fire in Sicily, whereof Wil- 
liam of Paris witnesses that it doth cruelly hurt the souls, 
but does not affect the bodies of those who approach it. 2 
By vows and signs of adoration 3 the soul may be helped 
if it be striving inwardly, but only when it is striving 
Godward and towards things that are good. Prayer will 
not extort from God what is unjust. Cornelius describes 
next many recorded forms of oblation and sacrifice 4 . He 
speaks of them as typical, as helps to prayer, because they 
are a second prayer, the petition urged by the beseecher 
first out of his heart and then in the form of an emblem 
which encourages his heart, and adds expression to his 
words. All heathen offerings have been abolished, and 
their whole meaning is concentred in the emblem of the 
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. There remain but two 
true sacrifices that of our Lord on the Cross for the re- 
mission of sin, and the sacrifice of a man's own heart, 
pure and contrite, to the God by whom that offering is 
not despised. 

1 Cap. Ivi. p. cccxxvii. 2 Cap. Ivii. p. cccxxviii. 

* Cap. Iviii. p. cccxxix. Cap. lix. p. cccxxxi. 


In the same spirit the youth treats of invocations and 
rites 1 ; describes the modes of invocation 2 and of con- 
secration, with the reason of them 3 ; describes how places 
are sacred when they are of divine choice and ap- 
pointment, consecrated by divine acceptance of man's pious 
wish; and sacred mysteries are those things to which, as 
is the case with sacred names and characters, the divine 
power has communicated occult virtue. There are sacred 
mysteries connected also with particular places and parti- 
cular times, as with the days called black days by the 
Romans 4 . The sixty-fourth chapter of the book, which 
is the last, contains many observations upon rites and 
forms, incense, and such matters, partly drawn from the 
books of Moses, partly from the classics, and contains 
many odd stories told upon the testimony of the ancients. 

We know now the spirit in which all these things are 
set on record by the young philosopher. He concludes 
his chapter with an amplification of the warning, which 
might be the text of his three Books of Occult Science, 
" In all things have God before your eyes." He adds, how- 
ever, formally, upon a last page, " The conclusion of the 
whole work 5 ." It is to say that he has endeavoured so to 
disperse his intention through it as to make it clear to the 
wise, though it will remain a secret to the foolish. " For 
you only I have written, whose souls are uncorrupted and 
confirmed in a right way of life ; in whom a chaste and 
modest mind, a faith unwavering, fears God and worships 
Him; whose hands are removed from all wickedness and 

1 Cap. Ix. p. cccxxxiiii. Cap. Ixi. p. cccxxxv. 

3 Cap. Ixii. p. cccxxxvi * Cap. Ixiii. p. cccxxxviii. * P. cccxlvi. 


crime; who live with decency, sobriety, and modesty: for 
you only shall be able to find the doctrine set apart for 
you, and penetrate the Arcana hidden among many 
riddles." To the malevolent and foolish, he adds, it will 
be only a multiplication of confusion. "Let none be 
angry with me because I have concealed the truth of this 
science in a net of riddles, and dispersed it in sundry 
places, for it is not hidden from the wise, but from the 
depraved and wicked : and I have written it in language 
that will of necessity keep it a secret from the ignorant, 
but make it clearer to the cultivated intellect." 
So the work ends. 




FROM the preceding sketch it has been intended that 
the reader should obtain, within a narrow space, nearly as 
true a knowledge of Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books 
of Occult Philosophy as would be got by reading them 
in detail. They alone constitute him a conjurer; upon 
them alone is based the popular impression fastened to his 
name upon them, and upon calumnies invented by the 
priests. In the outline of the books here given absurdities 
have not been softened down, indeed they may have 
been put forward unduly ; they mark, however, the 
ignorance, not of the man, but of the age in which he 
wrote, and of which he had compassed the false know- 
ledge. All is put to a wise use; the science halts over 
the earth, but the philosophy flies heavenward. Of 
the three books, it may be said, generally, that the 
first is Platonic, the second Pythagorean, the third 
Cabalistical, but that the three philosophies are modified 
and fused into one system, under the influence of a devout 

VOL. I. p 


study of the Gospel. The opinions ascribed to Pythagoras 
were, of course, to be had only from Aristotle (who cites 
Pythagoras but once, and refers constantly to the Pytha- 
goreans) and from the fragments of Philolaus, which 
Cornelius had probably not seen; but there were plenty 
of forged Pythagorean treatises, and there was much 
Pythagorean matter in the writings of those Alexandrian 
Neo-Platonics, who, as before said, were drawn upon by 
the founders of the Jewish Cabalism. In the writings, 
therefore, of the Neo-Platonics, and especially of Plotinus 
and lamblichus, whom Cornelius Agrippa studied well, 
Ave find more than elsewhere of the groundwork of this 
treatise on Occult Philosophy. Even the aspiration God- 
ward, by contempt of the flesh, to which Cornelius gives 
earnest Christian expression, was, in. a heathen form, the 
doctrine of the Alexandrian philosophers. Plotinus would 
not have his picture taken to perpetuate the memory of 
his mere flesh, nor would he make known the time or 
place of such a mean event as his own birth into the 
world of matter. Cornelius did not adopt the doctrine in 
this temper; but it is, nevertheless, right to remember 
thnt it was the philosophy of Plato tempered in Egypt 
with some orientalism, that upon the revival of Greek 
studies awoke aspirations in the minds of scholars. This 
taught them to rise above the gross and sensual delusions 
of their time, and to compare the spiritual religion, which, 
the new Platonists said, had been in all ages the soul of 
true philosophy, with the degradation of all holiness by 
ignorant and worldly monks, or with the appeals of the 


Church to base perceptions of the common people. So 
there was a real danger in Greek to men like Reuchlin 
and Agrippa; and in this sense the priests, who had an 
interest in the continued abasement of the human mind, 
found out instinctively, and rightly felt, that the Greek 
language was hostile to the Latin Church that to learn 
Greek was to set out on the high road to heresy. In the 
Occult Philosophy, Cornelius Agrippa showed that he had 
not only taken this Greek road, but had arrived also at 
that point of opposition to corrupt things of the Church, 
whither it led infallibly the boldest and most honest 
minds. Therefore it was for all corrupt things of the 
Church to stain him and his book with their own foul- 
ness; branding the man's character with wild inventions, 
and holding the book up for execration, as the impious 
work of a practitioner of magic made over, soul and body, 
to the devil. 

But the work is not yet published. Only the spirit of 
its teaching has been set forth by the young philosopher 
in a few lectures before the University of Dole, on the 
Mirific Word of Reuchlin. They are enough to raise a 
monk to pitiless hostility against him ; but of this hostility 
no sign is yet betrayed. 

All prospers with Cornelius. Elected regent 1 by his 
University of Dole flattered and praised by learned men 
reverend, right reverend, and noble heartily believed in 
by congenial friends blessed with the complete sympathy 
of a young wife, good, clever, and beautiful he has been 

1 JDefmtio Propoe. de Anna Monog. Op. Tom. il p. 596. 
P 2 


happily putting the last touches to his Books of Philoso- 
phy, and sent them off with a good heart to receive the 
criticism of a lettered friend. 

Of his personal appearance at this time, or any time, 
there remains little description. His portrait shows that 
he had a thoughtful and large-featured German face, in 
which 1 the one thing most observed seems to have been 
the placidity 1 . He was not only wise, but gentle, even 
to the tender cherishing of dogs. His wife he honoured 
as became a man who was the author of an essay upon 
the Pre-eminence of "Woman, and the position held by her 
in relation to him won for her the honour of his friends. 
Several scraps of Latin verse, indited in her praise by 
different acquaintances, are bound up with her husband's 
writings 2 ; and, although not as poetical as they are mytho- 
logical, they do unquestionably prove that Cornelius did 
well, when on his way to France from Italy by way of 
which country, as before said, he came from Spain he 
stopped long enough at Geneva to give his heart in keep- 
ing to Louisa Tyssie. Geneva lies close upon Burgundy, 
and while Agrippa was at Dole, that town was at a dis- 
tance from him very inconsiderable "to a youth in love, 
with horses at command, and well inured to travel. He 
had not so far to ride as Juno, for example, of whom to 
this effect writes one of the young Frau von Nettesheim's 
approving friends: 

1 It is mentioned both by Schelhorn in the Amcenitates Literarice, and by 
Paul Jovius in his Elogice. 

' Hilarii Bertulphi Ledii in Generosam Dominam Janam Loysiam Tytiam 
em, E. C. A. conjugem, appended to the collected works. 


When Juno called in upon Venus to borrow 

Her girdle, containing all kindness and love, 
Wherewith she might hope to get rid of her sorrow 

By winning more tender attention from Jove, 
Sighed Venus, more willing to help than to grieve, "Ah! 

The thing you desire from my keeping is gone ; 
It belongs now by right to a dame of Geneva 

That's washed by the broad-flowing stream of the Rhone ; 
Go to her, Jane Louisa, the notable wife 
Of Henry Agrippa, the peace of his life." 

In another strain another writes 1 : 

Grave of Agrippa's cares, his rest, his bliss, 

Jana Louisa, you his solace bright, 
Whom as a sister all the Graces kiss, 

And whom to crown the Muses all delight, 
Justly did Heaven give to your caress 

A wise, true man. Nobly you can unite 
A zealous love with sober faithfulness. 

Go on, and ever let him feel the might 
Of your great faith, to guide him in his day. 

Join kisses with him while ye see the light, 
And share his fame when both have passed away. 

The villanous monk Cutilinet is quietly compounding 
his thunder while we follow the manuscript of the Occult 
Philosophy to the hands of the friendly scholar whose 
opinion was asked upon it. That scholar was the Abbot 
John of Trittenheim, known to the learned as the Abbot 
Trithemius, many years of Spanheim, afterwards of the 
monastery of St. James, at Wurtzburg. There was scarcely 
a scholar, or a patron of scholars, living in his day whose 
life could be told without naming Trithemius. Scholars 
and mighty nobles went on pilgrimages, princes sent 
ambassadors to the poor monastery, which he made 

1 Reverendi P. Magistri Aurel'd ab Aquapendente, Augustmiani Epiyramma 


famous by his love of books and the good use he made of 
their contents. Cornelius had journeyed, like others, to 
see Trithemius, had seen him, and talked to him about 
magic, which the abbot studied, and of the wonders of 
which he was perhaps even more credulous than his 
young visitor. Among many pious works, Trithemius 
published one or two touching on magical subjects, and 
he was the first who told the wondrous tale of Dr. 
Faustus, in whose conjurations he was a devout believer. 
With this good man Cornelius had discoursed, imme- 
diately after his return from Spain, about occult things, 
and the undue discredit cast upon a study of them. Now 
that he had endeavoured to remove some of that discredit 
by showing in a book how worthy they were of attention, 
his old talk with Trithemius suggested to him that he 
could not do better than submit his treatise to the abbot's 

John of Trittenheim was a man forty-eight years old 
at that time, and the founder of his own intellectual 
fortunes. He was born at the place in the electorate of 
Treves, from which he took his name ; his father was 
John Eidenberg, and his mother was Elizabeth Longwi. 
His father dying while he was still young, his mother, 
after seven years of widowhood, married again. From 
his stepfather the boy got no help at all, and at fifteen, 
with a great craving for knowledge, he was scarcely able 
to read. In spite of his father-in-law's menaces, he stole 
some knowledge from a neighbour, and at last ran away 
to feed upon the crumbs let fall at the great schools and 


universities. He went to Treves and Heidelberg, and 
having picked up some little knowledge in those places 
and elsewhere, was travelling home on foot, twenty years 
old, when a snowstorm drove him to seek shelter in the 
Benedictine monastery of Spanheim. It was on the 25th 
of January, 1482. There was no great temptation to go 
on to his father-in-law's house which he could set against 
the offers of the monks, who were a small set of men 
ignorant and poor, made poorer by recent mismanage- 
ment of affairs, and willing to have the help of a bright 
youth in amending their condition. He remained with 
them. On the second day of the next month he formally 
became a novice ; towards the end of November professed 
himself one of the body of the Spanheim Benedictines ; 
and very soon afterwards was made their abbot. It was 
to the gates of this poor monastery that John of Tritten- 
heim attracted scholars, nobles, messengers from princes, 
not only by the fame of his own learning, but also by the 
famous library, consisting of two thousand books a rare 
possession with which he enriched the place. How he 
contrived to make so ample a collection will be best seen 
from this fragment of one of the sermons preached by 
him to the monks in their own chapel 1 : "There is no 
manual work which, in my opinion, more becomes a 
monk than copying books for devout reading and pre- 
paring the materials required by those who write. For it 
is allowable freely to interrupt with talk this sacred 

i Trithemii Exhortations ad Monachal. Omelia, vii. De Lahore Mona- 
chorum Manuali. (Ed. Argent. 1516, foL xvi. coL 2. 


labour, and to take thought at once for the refreshment of 
the mind and of the body. We are urged also by neces- 
sity to betake ourselves diligently to the copying of 
books, if we desire to have at hand matter wherewith we 
may mutually and usefully occupy ourselves in spiritual 
study. For you see the whole library of this monastery, 
which once was notable and large, was so scattered by 
the clumsy monks who came before us, sold and alienated, 
that there were not more than fourteen volumes found in 
it by me. The industry, indeed, of the printer's art, 
lately invented in our days at Mayence, produces to light 
many volumes daily, but it is by no means possible for 
us, who have hitherto been weighed down by the greatest 
poverty, to buy them all. For which reason I admonish 
and exhort all of you who do not go very willingly to 
out-door labour, that you should work as industriously as 
you can in copying books to the honour of God : because 
as indolence is at war with the soul, so moderate labour is 
a conservator of spiritual life." And to complete the 
picture of the abbot and his men, this account of their 
work is added from another of his writings 1 : " Let one 
correct what another has written; let another ornament 
with red what that person has been correcting; let this 
one put the stops, another one the plans and pictures; 
that one is to glue the sheets together, or to bind the 
volume between boards; you shape the boards, and he 
the leather ; some one else shall prepare the plates to orna- 

1 Trithemius De Laude Scriptorum Manualium. (Quoted through Schel- 
horn's Amcenitates Literarice, vol. vii. p. 285. 


ment the binding; one can cut parchment, another clean 
it, another by ruling lines adapt it for the copyist. An- 
other makes the ink ; another takes charge of the pens." 

The abbot's literary troop rebelled at last, in spite of all 
his exhortation. Trithemius being summoned by Philip, 
Count Palatine of the Rhine, to a conference at Heidel- 
berg upon monastic business, the Spanheim monks re- 
volted in his absence, made wild havoc in their famous 
library, and so behaved, that, after visiting Cologne and 
Spire in search of accurate intelligence and counsel, their 
abbot abandoned books and monastery to the rebels, and 
in October, 1506, received possession of the Abbey of St. 
James, at Wurtzburg, where he lived during the remain- 
ing ten years of his life. It was to Trithemius, then, 
after he had removed to Wurtzburg, that Cornelius sent, 
by special messenger, the manuscript of his Occult Philo- 
sophy, together with this letter 1 : 

" When I had some discourse with you lately, Reverend 
Father, in your monastery at Wurtzburg, we conferred 
much together about chemical matters, magic, cabalism, 
and other things, which at the present time lie hidden as 
secret sciences and arts. And, among the rest, it was a 
great question with us why magic itself though formerly 
by the common consent of all ancient philosophers it was 
regarded as the first step upward, and was held always in 
the highest veneration by the wise men and the priests 
of old should have become, from the beginning of the 

1 II. C. Agripp. Ep. 23, Lib. i. p. 702. Prefixed also to all editions of 
the De Occ. PhiL 


growth of the Catholic Church, hated and suspected by 
the holy Fathers, at length exploded by the theologians, 
condemned by the sacred canons, and at last proscribed 
by every sort of law." He records next, at some length, 
his own opinion, that sects of false philosophers, abusing 
the title of magicians and giving the name of magic to 
profane and evil deeds, had caused good men to turn 
with anger from words thus made infamous. Then he 
goes on to say : " The case being so, I wondered much, 
and, indeed, felt indignant, that up to this time no one 
had arisen to vindicate so sublime and sacred a study 
from the accusation of impiety, for as much as those whom 
I have seen of the more recent writers, Roger Bacon, 
Robert of York, Peter of Abano, Albertus Magnus, Ar- 
nold of Villeneuve, Anselm of Parma, Picatrix of Spain, 
Cecco, Asculo, Florentinus 1 , and many other writers of 
obscurer name, when they have promised to treat of 

1 Robert of York, a Dominican, lived about 1350, and wrote De Magia 
Cceremoniali, on Alchemy, De Mysteriis Secretorum, and De Mirabllibus 
Ekmentorum. None of these -works passed from MS. copies into print. 
Peter of Abano, or Apono, -was born at that place, near Padua, in 1250. 
He was, at Padua, the first professor of medicine. Among his works, fre- 
quently printed, is a Heptameron, including Elucidarium Necromanticum, 
Ekmenta Magica, &c. George Anselm, of Parma, was, in the fifteenth 
century, a famous physician, mathematician, and astrologer. His Institutes 
of Astrology are among the MSS. in the Vatican. In the year 1256, Pica- 
trix of Spain compiled, from two hundred and twenty-four old books, a 
Magical work, afterwards translated out of Arabic into Latin. It exists 
only in MS. Cecco d'Ascoli. a learned philosopher, was burnt for his Astro- 
logy as heretic at Florence in 1327. Nicolaus de Asculo, in the region of 
Ancona, nourished 1330, was a Dominican, and wrote, besides theology, 
comments on Aristotle, still in MS. Thaddaaus Florentinus was accounted, 
in the thirteenth century, another Hippocrates among hia patients at Bo- 
logna. He did not begin to study till the age of thirty. 


Magic, have either supplied idle matter without any con- 
necting system, or else have published superstitions not to 
be received by honest men. Thus my spirit was aroused 
within me, and through wonder and indignation I too 
conceived the desire to philosophise, thinking that I 
should produce a work not unworthy of praise inasmuch 
as I have been from early years a curious and fearless 
explorer of wonderful effects and the full working of 
mysteries if I could vindicate against the ill words of 
calumniators and restore that ancient Magic, studied by 
all the wise, purged and freed from the errors of im- 
piety, and adorned with its own reasonable system. Al- 
though I have long pondered upon this, I never until 
now have ventured to descend into this battle-ground. 
But after we had exchanged speech at Wurtzburg on 
these matters, your rare experience and learning, and your 
ardent exhortation, gave me heart and courage. There- 
fore, having selected the opinions of philosophers of tried 
faith, and having purged of false opinions operations de- 
tailed in the dark and reprehensible books of those who 
have maligned the traditions of the Magi, dispelling the 
shadows, I have just finished composing three Books of 
Magic, in a compendium which I have called by a less 
offensive title, Books of Occult Philosophy. These I 
now submit to be examined by you as a censor who pos- 
sess the fullest knowledge of those things, to be corrected 
and judged: that if anything has been written in them 
by me which may tend to dishonour nature, offend 
Heaven, or be hurtful to religion, you may condemn the 


fault. But if the scandals of impiety have been purged 
out, and you hold any tradition of the truth to be pre- 
served in these books, as in Magic itself, let nothing be 
kept hidden that can be made useful, while nothing is 
approved that can do harm. For so I hope that in due 
time these books, approved by your criticism, may be 
worthy to appear before the public under happy auspices, 
and not fear to endure the judgment of posterity. Fare- 
well, and pardon me the boldness of this venture." 

Trithemius kept the messenger till he had read the 
manuscript, and then returned it with this answer 1 : 

" Your work, most accomplished Agrippa, headed, On 
the More Occult Philosophy, which you offered to me 
for examination by the bearer of this, was received with 
more pleasure than mortal tongue can tell or pen express. 
I am led to the most admiration of the more than common 
erudition which enables you, while still a youth, pene- 
trating such secret recesses of knowledge, hidden from 
many even of the wisest men, not only to bring light 
into them fairly and truly, but even with propriety and 
elegance. Wherefore I thank you in the first place for 
your kindness to me, and if I am ever able, I will un- 
doubtedly repay such kindness according to my strength. 
Your work, which the wisest of men could not sufficiently 
commend, I approve ; next, I ask, exhort, and beseech 
you, as urgently as I can, that you continue as you have 
begun, in upward striving, and do not*allow the excellent 
strength of your intellect to become dull through want of 
1 Everywhere printed after the preceding. 


use; but always spend your toil on better and better 
things, that you may demonstrate, by the divinest illus- 
trations, the light of true wisdom, even to the ignorant. 
Nor let the consideration of any clouds, about which 
truth has been said, withdraw you from your purpose. 
The weary ox treads with a heavy foot, and in the 
opinion of the wise no man is truly learned who is 
pledged to the rudiments of one study alone. But you 
the Divinity has gifted with an intellect both large and 
lofty. Do not, ' therefore, imitate the cattle, but the 
birds : nor think that you are to delay over particulars, 
but confidently urge your mind up towards universal 
rules. For every man is thought learned according to 
the fewness of the things of which he is ignorant. But 
your intellect is fully apt for all, not reasonably to be 
engaged upon a few things, and mean ones, but upon many 
and high. This one thing only we warn you to abide 
by the counsel of, speak of things public to the public, 
but of things lofty and secret only to the loftiest and the 
most private of your friends. Hay to an ox and sugar to 
a parrot : rightly interpret this, lest you, as some others 
have been, be trampled down by oxen. Happy farewell, 
my friend; and if I can serve you in anything, command 
me, and understand that what you wish done is done. 
Moreover, that our friendship may acquire strength daily, 
I earnestly beg that you will write often, and send me 
now and then some of your lucubrations. Again fare- 
well. From our monastery at Wurtzburg, April 8, 


A kind letter in the high epistolary style then common ; 
a wise letter, too, as the reader cannot but have felt. You 
have done worthily, it said; ever aspire, but know that 
there are many heights to scale, and upon this height you 
must needs tread very warily. As for your present in- 
tention you must give it up. Publish these Books of 
Occult Science, wise as they are, and there is no dolt who 
will not have you down under his feet. 

Cornelius was under foot already when the warning 
reached him. Catilinet had made his rush. The Quadra- 
gesimal Discourses were delivered, and the youth was 
down. Trithemius was one monk, Catilinet was another. 
Monks like Catilinet were unluckily the rule, monks 
like Trithemius the exception. The good abbot, as we 
have seen, had been in a minority at Spanheim, all the 
monks under his rule had shaken themselves free of him, 
scattered his books, and lapsed into their natural stupidity. 
Trithemius was honoured of all learned men in Europe, 
and he was Agrippa's friend; Catilinet was one of those 
men whom John of Trittenheim figured as cattle, a Fran- 
ciscan monk, the chief indeed of the Franciscan monks of 
Burgundy, and for that reason, perhaps also for some 
power of lung, was chosen to preach the Lent sermons 
before Margaret at Ghent, but who, by no power of 
brain, has left a mark, though but the merest scratch, 
upon the annals of his time ; and he was Agrippa's enemy. 
Many an unknown name is treasured for something in 
ecclesiastical records and dictionaries, but the name of 
this Catilinet I can find nowhere except here, as that of 


the first ox who trampled on Cornelius Agrippa. I call 
him ox according to the abbot's parable, not as a word of 
abuse, but as a representative of that which treads heavily 
over the earth in an appointed course, and is of the earth 
earthy. Catilinet may have been, and I will take for 
granted was, an honest man, who conscientiously believed 
that there was heresy and danger in the Greek and 
Hebrew studies through which young Cornelius Agrippa 
won so much applause at D61e. He was the man who 
defends against every hint of progress all established rule 
and custom he is the ox, in fact, who cannot mount into 
the air. Catilinet 1 , at the beginning of Lent, in the year 
1510, was delivering at Ghent, before the Princess Mar- 
garet, whose patronage Cornelius was seeking, certain 
orations called the Quadragesimal Discourses. He at- 
tacked with violence, and denounced before Margaret the 
lectures, impious in his eyes, that had been delivered by a 
forward youth in her Burgundian capital. He succeeded 
in exciting Margaret to wrath against the cabalist, who was 
supposed to have set Christianity aside, and sat at the feet 
of those by whom the Saviour was crucified. Precisely so 
did the monk Pfefferkorn, of Cologne, a year or two later, 
denounce Reuchlin. It was a cry of the time, which 
Catilinet is not to be considered morally to blame, but 
simply ignorant, in having loudly uttered. 

Nearly together came the news of this blow struck at 
Ghent and the admonitory letter of Trithemius. What 

1 Expostulate contra Catilinet., Op. Tom. ii. p. 510, and Dtfens. Prop, de 
Anna Monoy., p. 596, for what follows. 


could be done? The Occult Philosophy, by which he 
hoped to win a recognised place among scholars, was to be 
put aside and shown only in secret to his nearest friends. 
The warning against publishing it was, seeing the issue of 
the far less questionable Dole orations, clearly wise. The 
treatise upon the Pre-eminence of Woman, written for the 
eye of Margaret, must also "be put aside. The hope of a 
scholar's life, with Margaret for friend, must also be put 
aside : and there remained to him only the barren honours 
he had won at Dole. 

I do not feel that here the difficulty was insuperable. 
There are men who, when an ox blocks up the path on 
which they travel, turn aside out of its way; and there 
are other men who turn the ox into the hedge and travel 
on. Catilinet might have been faced in Ghent itself, and 
beaten to one side by a conflicting energy. A more 
determined spirit than Cornelius possessed would not 
have given up what seemed to be the best hope of a life 
without a sturdy battle. But Cornelius was not deter- 
mined. He was a brave man at arms, but as to his mind, 
sensitive, gentle, and averse from strife. We shall find 
him presently replying to the man who has disturbed 
painfully the course of his whole life, in a calm tone of 
purely Christian expostulation. Better would it have 
been for his fame in this world if there had really been 
sometimes, according to the fable of his enemies, a devil 
at his elbow. 

Now, therefore, it is conceded by him that he can 
advance no further in the paths of pleasure. Farewell, 

CHECK. 225 

scholarship ! Farewell, philosophy ! Farewell, kind 
princess, for whose smiles he would have laboured 
worthily. There is a wife to support, a family position 
to maintain, and nothing left but the old way of life from 
which he had endeavoured to escape. He must resume 
his place among the young men of the court, and do such 
work as may be found for him by Maximilian. 

VOL. I. 




MAXIMILIAN had plenty of employment on his hands. 
The brave little republic of Venice, not to be crushed by 
the iniquitous league of Cambray, was fighting strenuously 
for its life against the banded forces of Pope, Emperor, 
and King. There were distrusts and jealousies among 
the allied plunderers, and there was, so far as Maximilian 
the Emperor was concerned, trouble and discomfort at 
home. His states at the diet of Worms declined to 
guarantee him his expenses, and were not to be brought 
into a love for the Italian war, though a bold orator had 
been obtained from Louis, who declaimed to them at 
length upon the infamies of Venice. He told them that 
the Venetians ridiculed the Germans in their theatres; 
charged a year's rent daily to a German for a house; 
governed their own citizens with cruelty, driving them, 
with the whips used on bullocks, to the galleys ; that they 
were pirates, poisoners, and so forth 1 . Nothing of all 

1 Hegewisch, Geschiehte der Regierung Kaiser Maximilians des Ersten. 
Hamburg and Kiel, 1782. 


this would induce Germany to back its Emperor with 
money. Maximilian denounced the meanness of the 
states in an Imperial Apology, but he continued poor. 
Very few lines will show sufficiently what his position 
was when young Cornelius resumed the palace livery. 

At home, the Emperor's second wife, Bianca Maria, 
daughter of Galeazio Sforza, who was less gentle than 
fair, was wasting to the grave, within a year of death, 
caused, some say, by her husband's very manifest dis- 
relish of her temper others say, by her own too great 
relish for snails, which she consumed till she destroyed her 
powers of digestion. Abroad, the Emperor was in great 
trouble about the Pope, who had become a faithless 
member of the league, and, bent on having Italy for the 
Italians, was not merely seceding from the foreigners 
whose armies poured into Italian plains, but was becoming 
anxious to expel the French by actual hostilities, and to 
part Maximilian, if possible, from Louis. But whatever 
might be promised him from Rome or Venice, Maximilian 
felt that he could never receive from the hands of Italian 
statesmen trustworthy security for the accomplishment of 
his desire to hold Italian ground. His policy, then, was 
to form stricter alliance with King Louis XII., to help 
him to the utmost against Julius II., labouring in all this 
not merely to secure his own imperial share of the Italian 
spoil, according to the terms of the league of Cambray, 
namely, Verona, Roveredo, Padua, Vicenza, Trevigi, and 
the Friuli, but to accomplish a wild private scheme, 
which was no other than the transfer of his own dominion 
Q 2 


from an empire which he meant to abdicate in favour 
of his grandson, to a papacy from which he meant that 
Julius should be ousted 1 . 

Now in the year 1510, when Cornelius Agrippa re- 
sumed service at court, Louis of France was entering 
into a formal alliance (that proved very short-lived) with 
Henry VIII., then new to his dignity as King of Eng- 
land. In this treaty the Emperor of Germany was in- 
cluded as a friend of each of the contracting powers. For 
the treaty's sake alone Maximilian would, no doubt, find 
it necessary to send representatives to London ; they went 
ostensibly, perhaps, on the occasion of the treaty, but 
they had business of far more serious import entrusted to 
them. For in his defection from the league of Cambray, 
the Pope had carried with him Ferdinand of Aragon, 
Henry VIII.'s father-in-law. In the very last Italian 
campaign the Pope and King of Aragon had secretly 
encouraged the Venetians to besiege Verona, the town by 
which Maximilian set most store, and to maintain boldly 
a contest in which the Emperor, without money enough 
to pay his men, could obtain no solid advantage. On the 
21st of February, 1510, Julius II. formally made peace 
with Venice, showed open hostility to France, and made 
some effort to induce Maximilian to follow his example. 
The Pope, old as he was and infirm, put armour on to 
take part bodily in the siege of Mirandola, and at the 
close of it he was carried through the breach in military 

1 Coxe's House of Austria and Hegewisch supply the foundation for the 
few historical reminders necessary to the text. 


triumph. Maximilian and Louis were thus forced into 
a closer brotherhood of enmity against the Roman See. 
To secure at least the neutrality of England was important 
to them both. The young king of that country, about 
nineteen years of age, and fresh to the throne, as husband 
to Katherine of Aragon, might, if his father-in-law grew 
a little warm over the quarrel, be induced to take part 
with the Pope. To watch for any tendency of this sort, 
and to establish quietly, as opportunity might serve, dis- 
trust of the Pope and of his cause in Henry's mind, was 
doubtless the "most secret purpose 1 ," which Cornelius 
Agrippa speaks of in connexion with his London mission. 
As a young theologian not very friendly to the papacy, 
a courtier and a cavalier as well, Cornelius was added at 
once to the English embassy. Thus it was that in the 
late summer or autumn of the year 1510 he came to 
what he entitles " the renowned emporium of England 2 ." 
The London of that day was hardly larger than Co- 
logne. Country roads branched from Charing-cross. Bay- 
nard's Castle had not long been rebuilt as a beautiful 
and commodious palace for the entertainment of great 
princes and favoured nobles by the king. There was but 
one bridge across the Thames. Fleet Ditch had just 
been scoured, and was navigable for large boats laden 
with fish and fuel up to Holborn Bridge. There was no 
pavement on the Holborn-street, which led by the Bishop 

1 Corn. Agrippze Defensio Prop, de Beatce Annas Monog. Op. Tom. ii. 
p. 596. 

2 Expost. contra Catilinet. ad fin. 


of Ely's palace and strawberry-beds, skirting the country, 
to the open Oxford-road, and so away, passing the 
hamlet of St. Giles. Chancery-lane, Fetter-lane, and Shoe- 
lane, were unpaved and in a scarcely passable condition. 
Leather-lane was such a back-lane to the fields as we 
see still in many market-towns. The city had its walls 
and gates, the cross in Westcheap was its newest orna- 
ment. Though London was more populous eastward than 
westward, in comparison with the metropolis of to-day, 
Stepney, nevertheless, was still a town by itself, remark- 
able for the pleasantness of its situation and the beauty 
of its scenery, and chosen, therefore, as a place of resi- 
dence by many persons of distinction. 

Cornelius Agrippa, when in London, lodged at Stepney 
as Dean Colet's guest 1 the wise and pure-hearted John 
Colet, Dean of St. Paul's, who was at that time engaged 
over the foundation of St. Paul's School. Colet, beloved 
of Erasmus, and decried of all who held by the abuses 
of the Church, was very careful in the choice of guests 
and house-companions. " We are all such as our con- 
versation is," he used to say, " and practise habitually 
what we often hear 2 ." We know Cornelius the better 

1 " In Britanniam trajiciens apud Johan Coletum Catholicas doctrinse eru- 
ditissimum, integerrimaeqiie vitse virum, in divi Pauli epist. desudavi,- et quse 
nescivi illo docente multa didici, quamvis apud Britannos longe aliud, et 
occultissimum quoddam tune agebam negotium." Defens. Prop, de B. A. 
Monoff. Op. Tom. ii. p. 596. 

2 This is placed by Erasmus with great honour among his adages. For 
what is said in this chapter of Dean Colet, Erasmus, writing his friend's 
life in the Epistle to lodocus Jonas, and elsewhere referring to him, is the 
chief authority. But all that was said by Erasmus was brought together 


when we learn that, while engaged on his court errand, 
he was received into the household at Stepney by John 
Colet and his venerable mother, and that he employed 
his time, as we are both pleased and amused to learn, in 
studying, under the influence of his host's enthusiasm, the 
Epistles of St. Paul. Paul of all men, wrote Colet, seems 
to me a vast ocean of wisdom and piety 1 . I laboured 
hard, writes Cornelius of the time when he was Colet's 
guest, at the Epistles of St. Paul. 

The young Doctor Cornelius cares not to talk of the 
amusements of the court in which he was required to take 
some part. Henry VIII. was enjoying gala days, pleasing 
himself with masks and tourneys. In the dress of a yeoman 
of his guard he had been to the City on St. John's Eve, there 
to see the pompous watch of the City guard, a nocturnal 
procession like a lord mayor's show, which marched with 
nine hundred and forty blazing cressets through streets 
garnished with flowers, boughs, and lighted lamps. On 
the following St. Peter's night he took his queen in state 
to see the pomp repeated. He was masquing, too, now 
as a Turk, now as a Robin Hood's man. In October, 
1510, he had a tournament in Greenwich Park, and a 
mock combat with battle-axes, in which he himself en- 
gaged with one Giot, a tall German. A week or two 
afterwards he went to Richmond, and proclaimed a 

with whatever else could be discovered in the Life of Dr. John Colet, Dean 
of St. Paul's, .... by Samuel Knight, D.D., Prebendary of Ely, 8vo, 
Lond., 1724, to which book, therefore, it is sufficient to refer. 

1 In a letter to the Abbot of Winchcomb, printed by Dr. Knight in the 
Appendix to his Life of Colet. 


tournament on the 8th of November, in which he, with 
Master Charles Brandon and Master Compton, was to 
hold the ground during two days against all comers, with 
spear at tilt on the first day, and at tourney with swords 
on the second. Of course, he was royally victorious, and 
Cornelius Agrippa was, no doubt, a witness of his prowess 
among the Almaines, or Germans from the court of Maxi- 
milian, whom we find to have been more particularly 
entertained on this occasion. " The second night," Ho- 
linshed tells us 1 , " were divers strangers of Maximilian 
the emperor's court and ambassadors of Spain with the 
king at supper. When they had supped, the king willed 
them to go into the queen's chamber, who so did. In the 
mean time the king, with fifteen other, apparelled in 
Almaine jackets of crimson and purple satin, with long 
quartered sleeves and hosen of the same suit, their bonnets 
of white velvet, wrapped in flat gold of damask, with 
vizards and white plumes, came in with a mummery, and 
after a certain time that they had played with the queen 
and the strangers, they departed. Then suddenly entered 
six minstrels, richly apparelled, playing on their instru- 
ments; and then followed fourteen persons, gentlemen, 
all apparelled in yellow satin, cut like Almaines, bearing 
torches. After them came six disguised in white satin 

and green The first of these six was the king, the 

Earl of Essex, Charles Brandon, Sir Edward Howard, Sir 

Thos. Knevet, and Sir Henry Guilford. Then part of the 

gentlemen bearing torches departed and shortly returned, 

1 In the Chronicles under the year 1510. 


after whom came in six ladies, apparelled in garments of 
crimson satin embroidered and traversed with cloth of 
gold, cut in pomegranates and yokes, stringed after the 
fashion of Spain. Then the six men danced with the six 
ladies ; and after that they had danced a season, the 
ladies took off the men's visors, whereby they were 
known : whereof the queen and the strangers much 
praised the king, and ended the pastime." 

Glad of its ending was, no doubt, Cornelius Agrippa, 
and most happy to return to a house where time was 
passed in wiser occupation. There was nothing in a royal 
mummery to be compared for beauty with the tall, well- 
shapen form and spiritual face of Agrippa's host, one of 
the handsomest as well as best men in the land. As for 
the dean's mother, Dame Christian, who lived with him, 
surely she was more royal than the king. " I knew in 
England the mother of John Colet," says her favourite, 
Erasmus 1 , in whose visits at Stepney she took rare delight, 
"a matron of singular piety; she had by the same hus- 
band eleven sons and as many daughters, all of which 
hopeful brood was snatched away from her, except her 
eldest son ; and she lost her husband, far advanced in 
years. She herself being come to her ninetieth year, 
looked so smooth and was so cheerful that you would 
think she had never shed a tear, nor brought a child into 
the world ; and (if I mistake not) she survived her son, 
Dean Colet. Now that which supplied a woman with so 
much fortitude was not learning, but piety to God." She 
1 Ep. 16, Lib. xxii. ; but the above is Dr. Knight's translation. 


had lived with her husband, Sir Henry Colet, wealthy 
City knight and twice lord mayor, in a mansion called the 
Great Place, surrounded by a moat, nearly adjoining 
Stepney Church. Afterwards she lived with her son 
John in a smaller mansion within sight of the church, 
that to which Cornelius went. It was bequeathed to 
St. Paul's School as a country retreat for the masters 
during times of pestilence, and now exists, in a half 
remodelled state, as two ample houses, adorned with an 
effigy of the dean, at one corner of White Horse-street 
and Salmon-lane. 

In this house host and guest studied the works of the 
Apostle of the Gentiles. For the last four years the dean 
had been vexed by complaints against his orthodoxy. The 
Bishop of London, according to a divine of the next 
generation 1 , was wise, virtuous, and cunning ; yet for all 
these three good qualities he would have made the old 
Dean Colet of Paul's a heretic for translating the Pater 
Noster into English, had not the dean been helped by 
the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was in trouble, and 
should have been burnt, said Latimer, if God had not 
turned the king's heart to the contrary. 

Dean Colet was a heretic, as most of the better class of 
scholars in his day were heretics, not because he went beyond 
the pale of the Church, but because there was manifest in him 
the tendency of knowledge. After a seven years' training 
in his youth at Magdalene College, Oxford, during which 
period he studied logic and philosophy, and took degrees 

1 Tyndal. Works, fol. Lond., 1573, p. 318. 


in arts, he went abroad for further information, and spent 
three or four years in France and Italy. At Oxford he 
had become familiar with Cicero, and had read, in Latin, 
Plato and Plotinus. Of Greek he knew nothing, because, 
even in England, the university cry was Cave a Greeds, ne 
fias hcereticus Learn Greek and turn heretic. At Paris, 
Colet became acquainted with Budaeus, and was for the 
first time introduced to Erasmus ; in Italy he joined his 
countrymen, Linacre, Grocyn, Lilly, and Latimer, who 
were at work on the heretical tongue, and acquired such 
knowledge as to read the ancient fathers, Origen, Cyprian, 
Ambrose, and Jerome ; also St. Augustine, of whom he 
had but a mean opinion. He looked into Duns Scotus 
and Thomas Aquinas, studied civil and canon law, and 
did not neglect what English poetry there was. He had 
early received rectories through family interest, and, while 
away from home, was made Prebendary of York and 
Canon of St. Martin's-le-Grand. On his return, after a 
short stay with his parents at Stepney, he went to Oxford, 
and there read, without stipend or reward, lectures on his 
favourite subject, the Epistles of St. Paul, to a great 
concourse. These lectures were continued during three 
successive years, in one of which Erasmus came to Oxford 
and renewed his friendship with John Colet. After re- 
ceiving more preferment on account of his connexions, in 
1504 Colet commenced D.D., and was made in the next 
year, without any application made by him or on his 
behalf, Dean of St. Paul's. He at once began to reform 
the cathedral discipline. For the Latin lectures read to 


the clergy only, on scholastic theology, he substituted the 
new practice of giving to all comers divinity lectures on 
Sundays and festivals, preaching commonly himself in 
Latin, indeed but with a grace and earnestness that, 
from a man comely as he was, served as mute appeal even 
to the hearts of the most ignorant. For the piety and acute- 
ness of these lectures, he was renowned as one of the best 
orators of his time. His beauty, his serenity, the venera- 
tion inspired by his every word and gesture, increased 
their effect 1 . By such means inquiry into Holy Scrip- 
ture was substituted at St. Paul's Cathedral for an idle 
school divinity. When Colet preached, he commonly 
was to be found expounding the Epistles of St. Paul, 
"which contain the fundamental doctrines of salvation, 
and with which, We are told, he was to that degree ena- 
moured that he seemed to be wholly wrapped up in 
them." Colet expressed great contempt for religious 
houses and the lives commonly led by monks; he set 
forth the danger of an unmarried clergy, spoke angrily of 
immorality and covetousness in priests, spoke against 
auricular confession, warned against image worship, and 
called irreverent the thoughtless, hurried repetition of a 
stated quantity of psalm or prayer. He also collected 
many passages from the Fathers which displayed modern 
corruptions in the Church. He did not believe in purga- 
tory. Such opinions, and his free way of expressing 
them, made the good dean obnoxious to the clergy. But 

1 PauliJovii. Descriptlo Britannia, Scotia, HibemvK et Orcadum, ed. 
Venet., 1548, p. 45. Erasmus says of his friend " Accesserat his fortunaa 
commodis corpus elegans ac procerum." 


for the good sense of Archbishop Warham evil conse- 
quences might have followed. As it was, when Agrippa 
lodged with him, Colet was preparing to bestow his ample 
fortune upon the foundation of a grammar school the 
first in which the dreaded Greek was systematically taught 
to English boys. He chose a friend who was a good 
Greek scholar, William Lilly, for the first head master, 
and MDX. was the date of foundation upon the inscrip- 
tion on the school wall facing the cathedral. 

We see, then, sympathy enough between Cornelius and 
his host the dean. There was one aspiration common to 
them both. Colet, we are told by Erasmus, had naturally 
a spirit exceeding high and impatient of the least injury 
and affront. He was also, by the same bent of nature, too 
much addicted to love, and luxury, and sleep, and mightily 
disposed to an air of freedom and jocoseness ; nor was he 
wholly free from a delight in money. In company or 
with ladies his joyous nature would break loose, there- 
fore he preferred talking Latin with a friend, so that he 
might avoid idle discourse at table. He ate only one 
meal daily, and then but of one dish, taking a draught or 
two of beer, and refraining commonly from wine, for 
which he had, when it was very good, great relish. He 
had always guests at table, few and fit, and though his 
provision for them was frugal, yet was it in all its appoint- 
ments very agreeable and neat. He did not sit long over 
meat. His custom was that, after the first grace, a boy 
with a good voice should read aloud a chapter out of an 
epistle of St. Paul, or from the Proverbs. Then he would 


begin a pleasant conversation on some point in it, and if 
the talk grew dull would change the theme. There 
never was a man with a more flowing wit, and therefore 
he delighted in companionship with lively people, but he 
turned his light and cheerful stories always to a serious 
and philosophic use. With a congenial friend he gladly 
would prolong discourse until late in the evening. He 
loved neatness and cleanliness in books, furniture, enter- 
tainments, apparel, and goods, but he despised state, and, 
for himself, wore only black clothes, though others of the 
higher clergy walked in purple raiment. His upper gar- 
ment was made of plain woollen, and in- cold weather he 
had it lined with fur. His ecclesiastical income he spent 
on the wants of his family and hospitality ; his private 
estate, which was large, he put only to charitable uses, 
finally devoting it, as before said, to the foundation of a 
school. This school he did not, in the narrow spirit of so 
many founders, open only to a certain section of the 
people, but to the whole country, and he took thought to 
provide in its first rules for the necessities of extension 
and improvements, and for whatever changes of plan 
might, by the progress of society, be made to appeal- 
proper to its future rulers. Colet was a great lover of 
little children, admiring the pretty innocence and sim- 
plicity in them, and he would often observe how they had 
been set before us by the Saviour for an example. Never- 
theless, he shared the common notion of his time upon 
the propriety of not sparing the rod on schoolboys, and 


even suffered boys in his school, who were new comers, to 
be flogged severely upon little provocation, for the mere 
purpose of laying in their minds the foundation of what 
was supposed to be a wholesome awe. 

Such being Dean Colet's character, it will be seen that 
he was able very perfectly to sympathise with the high 
aspirations of Cornelius, and that he did what he could 
to direct and purify them in accordance with his own 
sense of all that was great and good, by setting the young 
man to work on the Epistles of St. Paul. In a contempt 
of all that was most clearly corrupt and unreasonable in 
Church discipline, and a resolve to exercise freely the right 
of independent study, whether at Greek or any other 
branch of knowledge that was scouted by the ignorant, the 
young German doctor could only have been strengthened 
by his English host. Let us not omit here to remark how 
insensibly, and as it were without volition of his own, the 
life of Agrippa has begun to run in a strong current 
against priestcraft. He has not merely roused against 
himself as a student the bad spirit of monkery as re- 
presented in the person of Catilinet, but no sooner 
has he been turned back by Catilinet from the career 
of his choice, and forced on a career of action, than 
he is put on the high road to excommunication by the 
Emperor, who happens to be struggling with the Pope. 
As one of the Pope's antagonists, he is despatched to 
England, and when there the friendship he wins is indeed 
that of one of the best men of his time, but one against 


whom, nevertheless, suit had been opened by his bishop on 
account of heresy, and who had been running great risk 
of a martyrdom. 

From Dean Colet's house Cornelius wrote a letter of 
Expostulation on the subject of his condemned Exposition 
of the Book on the Mirific Word, to John Catilinet, 
Doctor of Theology, Provincial of the Franciscan Brothers 
throughout Burgundy 1 . It is full of character, and won 
for the writer, no doubt, Colet's respect, as it will that of 
any reader. Considering the provocation and the disap- 
pointment suffered, it is, though just a little caustic, mar- 
vellously gentle. Thus it runs : 

" It is the part of a Christian to do deeds of charity, and 
to speak truth, which he who fails to do, wanders so far 
from Christ as to become altogether undeserving of the 
Christian name. I write this to you, good Father, moved 
by that very charity and truth (in which we ought all to 
be joined, as members of the same body, whose head is 
Christ), not out of any false opinion, envy, or hatred, 
which should be put far away from Christian men. I will 
say, however, with your leave, that you, by many false- 
hoods poured out before public assemblies, have not feared, 
indeed have striven your utmost, to excite envy and hatred 
against me upon a matter wherein I deserved no blame. 

1 First published appended to the first edition of Agrippa's " De Nobilitate 
et Prcecellentia Fteminel Sexus (Mense Maio, 1532), as Henrici Cornelii 
Agrippse Expostulatio super Expositione sua in librum de Verbo Mirifico 
cum Joanne Catilineti fratrum Franciscanorum per Burgundiam provincial! 
ministro sacrae Theologize doctori." From this edition, fol. sig. D-D iiiL, it is 
here translated. 


I wonder, therefore, by what right, while I was far away 
there in Burgundy, an unknown wayfarer, always harm- 
less towards all, seeking of no one more than honour for 
desert, you were moved to calumniate me, you who for 
your calling's sake should, as Paul teaches the Romans 1 , 
hate evil and cleave to good, be kindly affectioned towards 
others, blessing and cursing not, overcome evil with good, 
and as much as lieth in you live peaceably with all men. 
Truly you have not done what is worthy of your calling, 
or of a Christian teacher, who should exhort the people in 
the name of Christ to those things that are Christ's, to the 
works of the spirit charity and peace, and the other 
things which Paul recounts to the Galatians 2 . For he 
who persuades to hatred, wrath, strife, rivalry, enmity, 
does not persuade to things of the spirit but things of the 
flesh, than which nothing should be more strange to the 
Christian, and nothing more incongruous than for a 
Christian doctor to teach and incite to them. For Christ, 
the author of our religion, and the apostles, and the 
whole sacred writings, as you must know better than I, 
call us to peace and quietness. Therefore John the 
Evangelist 3 reports Christ to have said to his disciples, 
Peace I give unto you, my peace I leave with you. And 
Paul says to the Hebrews 4 , Follow peace with all men, 
and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. 
Not only to exhort men to this peace, but even to entreat 

1 Romans, ch. 12. I cite the texts as they are cited by Agrippa in hi 

2 Galatians, ch. 5. 3 John, ch. 4. 4 Hebrews, ch. 12. 

VOL. I. R 


them, ought to be your duty and also mine. Does not 
the apostle say to the Ephesians 1 , Let no corrupt com- 
munication proceed out of your mouth;. and a little after, 
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and 
evil speaking be put away from you? And in his epistle 
to the Corinthians 2 , he so detests a railer, that he judges it 
improper to sit at meat with him. In the same epistle, 
not long afterwards 3 , he puts revilers among those who 
shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven. And he teaches 
the same to the Colossians, saying, Put away anger, wrath, 
malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your 
mouth. Peter also 4 teaches, that he who would love life 
and see good days, let him restrain his tongue from evil. 
And .Tames 5 says, Speak not evil one of another, brethren. 
Thus we are taught everywhere by the apostles to abstain 
from maledictions and offences, which are seeds of ill-will 
and discord of such kind as you have very recently been 
scattering against me before a people and a prince, when, 
a little before this last past festival of Easter, in Ghent, of 
Flanders, before our most illustrious princess and all the 
nobles of the court, called to deliver gravely and wisely 
Quadragesimal discourses, you broke out, forgetful of 
Christian modesty, and in full assembly interrupting the 
Gospel of Christ, into open abuse and false calumny of me, 
until you led many to hate me and wish me ill, through 
false opinion. It is thus that even some who were 
before friends of my name, now have their minds averted 

1 Ephesians, ch. 4. 2 I. Corinthians, ch. 5. 3 I. Corinthians, ch. 6. 
4 I. Peter, ch. 3. 5 James, ch. 4. 


from me, so taught by your most false fancies and trucu- 
lent lies, uttered in those much-talked-of assemblies, in 
the which you employed against me maledictions and op- 
probrious words of shame. For among other things you 
called me before that numerous audience once and again a 
Judaising heretic, who introduced into Christian schools 
the most wicked, damnable, and prohibited art of the 
Cabala, who, in contempt of the holy fathers and the 
doctors of the Church preferred the rabbis of the Jews, 
and twisted sacred letters to the arts of heresy and of the 
Talmud. But I am a Christian; neither death nor life 
shall separate me from the faith of Christ, and I prefer to 
all others Christian teachers, although I do not despise the 
rabbis of the Jews, and if, as it may be, I shall prove to 
have erred, yet I desire not to be a heretic, nor do I 
intend to Judaise, and it is so far from me to teach arts 
damnable and prohibited, that I would not so much as 
learn them. The sacred scriptures I nowhere distort, but 
according to the divers expositions of divers doctors, take 
them in divers ways for witness. I have not taught 
heretical arts and errors of the Jews, but I have ex- 
pounded, by long toil and vigils, the Christian and Catholic 
book entitled, On the Mirific Word, of the Christian 
Doctor John Reuchlin of Pfortzheim, not secretly in 
closets, but in the public schools, before a public audience, 
in public prelections which I held gratuitously in honour 
of the most illustrious Princess Margaret, and of all that 
was studious in Dole; nor were there wanting in my 
audiences men who were most grave and learned, as well 


the parliament of Dole, the venerable fathers of the sena- 
torial rank, as also the masters in that University, the most 
learned doctors, and the ordinary readers, among whom, 
the reverend Vice-Chancellor Verner, conservator of the 
church at Dole, dean, doctor in each faculty, did not omit 
attendance at a single lecture. But you to whom I was 
utterly unknown, who were never present at one lecture, 
and never heard me elsewhere speaking privately about 
these things who never, so far as I know, have seen me 
yet have dared to utter against me an unjust opinion, that 
had better been omitted, and might have been, and ought 
to have been, not only because it is most false, but also 
because it is not fit that a religious man should dissemi- 
nate among most serious and sacred Christian congrega- 
tions such calumnies and contumelies, and they altogether 
misbecome the divine office of the preacher. For to 
disperse contempt, cursing and hatred is not the work of 
sincerity and speaking in the place of Christ, but in a 
manner (I employ the words of Paul 1 ) to handle the word 
of God deceitfully, which that great Apostle, set apart for 
the Gentiles, says that he had never done, and which cer- 
tainly ought never to be done by any one who seeks to be a 
Christian teacher. You nevertheless have done this with- 
out cause and without fault on my part, you have con- 
trived evil against me, robbed me of my good reputa- 
tion, blotted my good name with the impurity of your 
hypocrisy, and out of the rancour of your mind have 
borne false witness against me. For Christ says, in Mat- 
1 II. Corinthians, ch. 4. 


thew 1 : Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be 
in danger of the council : but whosoever shall say, Thou 
fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. But you have marked 
me not with an uncertain reproach, or the name of folly, 
but, suspicious beyond measure, on account of your igno- 
rance of the word Cabalism, and want of information about 
Hebrew dogmata, have called me heretic and Judaiser, 
and have moreover adjudged me to the fire. But I rejoice 
that I bear this burden for the sake of Our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and am esteemed as a sheep to the slaughter, or 
held worthy to suffer rebuke for that mirific word, the 
name, I say, of Jesus. By that pentagram in Matthew 2 , 
happiness is promised to those of whom all manner of evil 
is said falselv, and who are persecuted for His name's sake. 
And Peter calls those happy who are reproached for the 
name of Christ. 

" What part with the Jews have I who confess Christ 
Jesus the son of God 3 , and most devoutly worship Him ? 
What part with heretics have I who observe with my best 
strength and teach the unity of the Church and its most 
salutary precepts, and the rites of sacred councils and 
canons by which faith is assured and cleansed from here- 
tical iniquity ? Those by whom I was heard can know 
those, I say, most upright and learned men can judge and 
bear witness if ever anything was said by me offensive 
to the Christian faith and Church, unless perchance you 
mean to say that they shared with me my Judaising and 
my heresy. For it would have been neither decorous nor 

1 Matthew, ch. 5. - Matthew, ch. 3. 3 I. Peter, ch. 4. 


Christian in them, hearing publicly, to have tolerated by 
silence, to have consented with by not contradicting, 
and, what is more/ to have approved by rewarding, what 
it was base, Judaical, and heretical in me to have read ; 
for this reading was the reason of their receiving me into 
the college, and giving me an ordinary lectureship, the 
position of regent, and a salary. This evil speaking is not 
then against me only, but against the whole senate of the 
parliament, and against the whole University of Dole. 
See into what pit you have cast yourself, who while you 
wished to cut me up with calumny have cheated with 
false stories a princess, her nobles, and all her court have 
exposed to ridicule a senate and an university have pro- 
faned also the word of God. Was this preaching the 
gospel of Christ before so illustrious a princess and court? 
Was this the office of a pious and religious brother ? Is 
it thus a brother is corrected ? Grant now that I, still a 
youth, not yet twenty-three years of age, had brought 
forward in my lectures some matter imprudently, and 
was to be reprehended for it (though James says 1 , that if 
any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man), 
yet this ought to have been done far otherwise, and in a 
more pious and Christian way than you adopted ; for 
while you lived in the town of Gray, and journeyed fre- 
quently to Dole, if I seemed to you to have spoken ill, or 
to have interpreted childishly, why did you not come to 
me, why did you not rebuke me, why did you not reason 
with me of my error ? For heresy, for Judaism, you did 
1 James, ch. 3. 


not check me to my face, but you wished at Ghent, in 
Flanders, to deliver me over, lecturing at Dole, in Bur- 
gundy, two hundred miles away, to the ill-will of all y 
before the princess and her court, that by so exciting 
against me the hate of the princess and her courtiers you 
might indirectly (as it is said) cause my expulsion from 
the whole of Burgundy. Who does not see here a 
treachery laid open, calumny manifest, a spite detected? 
Had I sinned, it would have become you to rebuke me in 
another manner, and as Paul instructs in the Epistle to 
the Galatians 1 , with these words : Brethren, if a man be 
overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an 
one in the spirit of meekness. And he says also to the 
Thessalonians 3 , Count him not as an enemy, but admonish 
him as a brother. This fraternal and evangelical manner 
of admonition would have become you, a religious man 
bearing the name of Brother, as having professed the 
rule of the Franciscan brethren, and it would have been 
of much advantage to me, while it would have preserved 
for me the grace and favour of the princess and of others. 
Spare me then, henceforward, I entreat; let there be an 
end of reproaches and detraction; let there be an end of 
the discourses that provoke to hate and cripple charity ; 
exhort to mutual benevolence and concord those whom 
you have made unfriendly to me'; restore to me the 
wholeness of my reputation ; restore to me my good and 
innocent name ; restore publicly what you have publicly 
destroyed; restore to me those things which you have 
1 Galatians, ch. 6. 2 Thessalonians, ch. 3. 


snatched away by cruel fraud and wicked injustice. Go 
not before you are reconciled with me, your brother in 
J-esus Christ, with a stubborn heart resisting the divine 
spirit, to celebrate the divine mysteries of the mass, and 
eat the body of Christ to your own damnation. By that 
holy sacrament I conjure you to restore, for we are both 
Christians and members of Christ, as Paul says to the 
Romans, one body in Christ ; to separate us and to make 
dissension what is it but to divide Christ's body, and in this 
body you are a noble and a chief member, who are doctor 
of theology, and have made profession of the rule of St. 
Francis. I also work in the same body, and though I am 
but a mean member, yet I am a Christian, and learn daily 
with pleasure from great masters, of whom you are one, 
the things that belong to our religion, wherein undoubt- 
edly I delight much ; let us, therefore, love one another. 
In this, as the apostle says 1 , is the fulfilling of the law; 
nothing is more excellent than truth and charity. For 
the apostle writes to the Galatians 2 , If ye bite and de- 
vour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one 
of another. 

"These few words I write to you, good father, not 
moved by hatred, ill-will, or anger, but conscious of my 
own innocence, in a good and pious temper, studious of 
love ; and the charity that I am asking you to show; 
the same I offer; which to refuse or to spurn this that I 
have written can neither be a part of your profession or 
your dignity; for he who refuses charity refuses God. 
1 Romans, ch. 13. * Galatians, ch. 5. 


For God, the evangelist witnesses 1 , is love. But if for 
talmudical and cabalistical studies which you distrust, or 
for any other things which may have been erroneously re- 
ported to you by small, unskilful persons, or by persons 
little friendly to me, you have concejved any suspicion 
of me, I will both clear and justify myself to you most 
amply. Farewell. From London, the famous emporium 
of England. In the year 1510." 

Excellent preaching to a rock. A letter running over 
with the recent study of St. Paul, and in which there 
is the Christian spirit scarcely less to be admired for the 
drop or two of human bitterness infused into it. Still 
there is the generous aspiration, the fond yearning upward 
of a contemplative German youth, who knows that there 
is vigour in his striving. With the vigour, weakness. 
Every one must feel that with such letters as this which we 
have just read it is vain for any man to hope to grapple 
with the Catilinets of the world. Agrippa began life upon 
enchanted ground, the disenchantment is at hand. Against 
established form and rule his aspirations, noble as they are 
and true in essence, certain as it is that they and many 
others like them helped society to better days, seem to be 
powerless. Everywhere he finds men treating accepted 
opinions as if they were the height and depth of know- 
ledge, using them in a thousand forms as arguments 
against every far-reaching speculation. The day will 
come when we shall find him, stung to the quick, hur- 
riedly and angrily turning the tables upon the entire con- 
1 I. John, ch. 4. 


ference of near-sighted pundits, and hunting them all 
down with their own cry of Vanity, in the last years of 
his vexation. The days of a simple aspiration are already 
numbered, and the days of provocation are begun. 

Having finished his appointed work in England, 
Agrippa returned to Germany, and probably entitled to 
a month or two of holiday joined his domestic circle in 
Cologne. Maximilian would soon find for him fresh em- 
ployment, since the Emperor was busy, and had need of all 
heads and all hands that could be made available. Cologne 
was to the young Agrippa but a place of rest for a few 
months, where he could gossip at ease with his wife, his 
father, and his mother. His parents, having given him 
his taste for astronomy, could sympathise with at least 
some part of his studies 1 . He was happy as a son and as 
a husband, and found rest at home. 

But inasmuch as an entire idleness is a great spoiler 
of rest, Cornelius undertook also to amuse his more 
learned fellow-townsmen by delivering the lectures called 
Quodlibetal (or What-you-Will), on questions of Di- 
vinity 3 . I do not know anything more than can be 
guessed about these Quodlibetal divinity lectures at the 
Cologne University. It is reasonable, however, to suppose 
that they were like the Quodlibet books miscellanies 

1 De Incertitudine et Vanitate Scientiarum, cap. xxx. De Astronomia 
(ed. Septemb. 1532. p. 79): "Ego quoque hanc artem a parentibus puer 

2 Ex Britannia autem recedens, apud Colonienses meos coram universo 
studio, totoque Theologico coetu, Theologica placita (quaa vos vocabulo non 
admodum Latino Quodlibeta dicitis) baud non Theologice declamavi." Def. 
Prop, de Monog. B. Annas. Op. Tom. ii. p. 597. 


meant to show, by the variety of topics treated and 
the random way of treatment, a great range of agree- 
able or useful reading. Whatever they may have been, 
the Doctor of Dole delivered the Quodlibetal lectures 
while upon this visit to his family, and he must have 
heard much talk, too, upon interesting matters, for 
the pronunciation against Reuchlin, on the part of the 
Cologne theologians, was just then (1511) growing to a 
head, and rabbinical books were the main topic of dis- 
cussion in the University. Thus the case stood. One 
Pfefferkorn, a Cologne Jew, turned orthodox priest, and 
bitter, as most converts are, against the brotherhood he had 
deserted, had, in the year 1507, exhorted Jews to "be- 
come Christians in a book, published at Cologne, called a 
Speculum. In 1509 another Jew, turned orthodox priest, 
Victor von Carben, published, with the same object, also 
at Cologne, a golden work, an Opus Aureum. In the 
same year he held public disputations with the Jews (of 
course discomfiting them) in the house of Hermann Hass 
of Cologne, at Poppelsdorf. Pfefferkorn and his ally were 
for the destruction of all Jewish literature as so much 
blasphemy, and they attacked Reuchlin, of course, as the 
chief upholder of the learning they contemned. Pfeffer- 
korn and Reuchlin became chiefs in a great tilt before 
the eyes of Europe. The matter in dispute was put thus 
at the time in the form of what was called a double 
Crinomenon : 

I. Whether all Hebrew books, except the Bible, are to 
be abolished, burnt ? 


Reuchlin denies. Pfefferkorn affirms. 

II. Whether the Cabala propounded by Reuchlin be 
contrary to the word of God ? 

Pfefferkorn affirms. Reuchlin denies 1 . 

In 1509 an order was extracted from Maximilian, then 
in camp at Padua, to John Pfefferkorn of Cologne, com- 
manding him to search out Jewish books and extirpate 
them. In 1510 a like order was sent to Uriel, Archbishop 
of Mayence, who forwarded to Pfefferkorn, from Aschaffen- 
burg, a list of the books he had seized, and also, sensible 
man, wrote to ask Reuchlin which he might properly de- 
stroy after he had seized them. A month or two afterwards 
instructions were obtained from Maximilian to Jacob Hoch- 
straten, inquisitor of Cologne, Victor von Carben, priest, 
and John Reuchlin, doctor of laws, informing them of the 
powers conferred on Uriel, Archbishop of Mayence 2 , and 
ordering them all to furnish him with counsel. In 1509 
Pfefferkorn had attacked Reuchlin as a Cabalist and pro- 
moter of blasphemy in his Handspiegel, to whom, on the 
6th of October, Reuchlin replied by the publication of his 
Augenspiegel. About this famous book, which they 
eventually condemned and burnt, and about Reuchlin's 
letters, on the same topic, to Conrad Koellin, then just 
published, the theologians of his native town were mainly 

1 This and the other notes on the controversy as it stood at this time in 
Cologne I take from the Prodromus Historic^ Universitatis Coloniensis, quo 
exhibetur Synopsis actorum et scriptorum a Facilitate Theologica pro EccL 
Cath. et Republ. of Joseph Harzheim (4to, Cologne, 1759). 

2 This Uriel is said afterwards to have died of regret, because when] he 
once by chance caught the cellarer at Aschaffenburg stealing his wine, he 
gave him a blow on the head with the cooper's adze that killed him. 


occupied when young Agrippa, fresh from the stripes of 
Catilinet, spent his holiday among them. There was no 
escaping from the quarrel. If the young doctor turned 
from priests to citizens he found among them other matter 
for anxiety. The discontent of the townspeople with their 
chief men was ripening towards rebellion, and only two 
years afterwards the heads of senators were rolling in the 
Grass-market 1 . 

There was no rest for Cornelius he is now aged 
twenty-five except in his own quiet communion with 
wife and parents ; and from that he was sooii taken by 
the summons to lay by his doctor's cap and, taking up his 
sword, join instantly the army of the Emperor in Italy. 

1 Mvtius de Germanorum Prima Orlglne . ... ad mensem Augustum anni 
1530. Lib. xxx. p. 356. 




SHINING in mail, Cornelius Agrippa is at Trent in the 
spring or early summer of the year 1511, preparing to 
escort some thousand of gold pieces to the camp of Maxi- 
milian at Verona 1 . Doctor of divinity, he has resumed 
field service ; and certainly a young doctor in arms is not 
to be marvelled at in 1511, when the year preceding saw 
an aged pope with harness on his back. The tastes of 
Cornelius are not military. His friend at Trent is George 
Neideck, the bishop, and from Trent he writes to his 
early friend Landulph in the old patronising tone. Lan- 
dulph has by this time acquired a wife, to whom 
he refers by the perhaps pet name of Penthesilea ; 
also a little boy, Camille, and a girl-baby, Prudence 3 . 
Landulph, friend of Agrippa's youth, must really be 
helped, since he is still waiting for a favourable open- 
ing in life, living, apparently in no very satisfactory 
manner, on his private means. The Eagles have crossed 

1 Ep. 25, Lib. i. p. 705. 2 Ep. 34, Lib. L p. 709. 


the Alps. Agrippa joins them, and Landulph must join 
them too. The ingenious soldier-scholar has again a 
scheme by which he and his friend are both to compass 
glory, praise, and profit. If Landulph, hastening by sail 
and oar, will only meet Cornelius at the lodging of the 
Bishop of Trent, in Verona, he will know the plan 1 . 
What is the mystery? No more than that the learned 
captain sees how he shall compass for himself and for his 
friend a couple of Italian professorships 2 . 

With a scheme; then, like this in his head, Cornelius 
accompanied the chest of gold to Maximilian's Italian 
head-quarters at Verona. Verona was one of the towns 
promised him by the league of Cambray, and the one 
upon the possession of which he laid most stress in all 
public or underhand negotiations. The gold crowns 
were, I suspect, French coin. On the 17th of November 
in the preceding year, the exigencies of their relative 
positions had caused Maximilian and Louis to execute, at 
Blois, a treaty of strict mutual assistance. It was agreed 
then that Maximilian should receive from France a 
hundred thousand ducats in the spring for military use in 
Italy, and was to cross the Alps in person with three 
thousand riders and ten thousand foot, which were to join 
twelve hundred lances and eight thousand foot supplied 
by Louis. Maximilian, however, was a very much em- 
barrassed prince. He could not raise the necessary men, 

1 Ep. 25, Lib. i. 

2 Ep. 30, Lib. i. p. 707. It is distinctly implied in the second sentence, 
which should be compared with language used in the preceding letters. 


and did not cross the Alps himself, but sent the money to 
Verona, and despatched the Duke of Brunswick, late 
in spring, with a small corps to overrun the Friuli. 
Wretchedly supported by the Emperor, the little army at 
Verona which sometimes had to exist a whole week 
without bread or wine must have delighted in the 
rumble of the wheels of the money-cart. It had and 
Cornelius, who joined it, had nothing to do with the 
Duke of Brunswick, who re-crossed the Alps again at the 
approach of winter, and left to these permanent troops, 
co-operating with the French, the burden of incessant 
toil. Famine would now and then breed plagues among 
them, which then spread beyond the German camp among 
the Frenchmen. The cruel incidents of war were per- 
petually present to men holding what was scarcely to be 
called their own on hostile ground, and at all seasons 
harassed by a busy enemy. When history may tell us 
only now and then of an important battle during any 
period of this long and murderous Italian struggle, which 
began with nothing higher than a royal lust of plunder, 
the contemporary chronicles are full of petty details 
frightful to contemplate 1 . Because Cornelius was con- 
templative, he was quite unfit to fight in such a cause at 
such a time. He owed service to Caesar, and he paid it ; 
required to fight, he showed that he possessed the physical 
courage in which few men who are young and noble ever 

1 Of the same period Anquetil writes, " Pendant ces arrangements la 
guerre se faisait k entrance en Italie par petites actions, souvent plus meur- 
trieres que les grandes batailles." A few points in tliis part of the narrative 
rest upon the Chronique de Bat/art par le Loyal Serviteur, ch. xlvi.-xlix. 


have been found deficient. He won in this year, 1811, 
or the year following most likely the year following a 
knighthood in the field. Nevertheless, he felt that he was 
not in his own true position 1 . The salary paid to him (or 
owing to him) for seven years from the Imperial govern- 
ment was that of a soldier. " I was for several years," he 
afterwards wrote, " by the Emperor's command, and by 
my calling, a soldier. I followed the camp of the Emperor 
and the King" (of France): "in many conflicts gave no 
sluggish help : before my face went death, and I followed, 
the minister of death, my right hand soaked in blood, my 
left dividing spoil : my belly was filled with the prey, and 
the way of my feet was over corpses of the slain : so I was 
made forgetful of my inmost honour, and wrapped round 
fifteenfold in Tartarean shade 2 ." So wrote the man of his 
Italian war service, who rode out to it dreaming of glory 
in the shape of a professor's chair at Pavia, and who, no 
doubt, thanked heartily the Cardinal of Santa Croce, 
when, towards the end of the first summer's campaign in 
arms, he invited the young doctor Cornelius Agrippa to 
a campaign, which proved but a very brief one, of a more 
congenial sort, as member of the Council then about to 
meet at Pisa 3 . The acceptance of this invitation was the 
climax of Agrippa's opposition to the Pope. 

1 See next chapter. 2 Ep. 19, Lib. ii. p. 736. 

* Def. Prop, de B. Ann. Monog. Op. Tom. ii. p. 596. " Exinde a 
Maximiliano Csesare contra Venetos destinatus, in ipsis castris, hostiles inter 
turbas, plebemque cruentam, a sacris lectionibus non destiti, donee per 
Reverendissimum Cardinalem Sanctae Crucis, in Pisanum Concilium re- 
ceptus, nactusque si concilium illud prosperasset, egregiam illustrandorum 
studiorum meorum occasionem." 

VOL. I. S 


The Council of Pisa was begotten at Tours of an 
ecclesiastical assembly summoned by King Louis XII. and 
attended by the Bishop of Gurk on the part of Maximi- 
lian, to consider whether it was lawful in an Emperor and 
King to resist Papal aggression. An affirmative answer 
led to a revival in France of the pragmatic sanction of 
Charles VII., diminishing Church patronage, and induced 
a request on the part of the assembly that a general 
Council might be summoned to meet at Pisa for the os- 
tensible purpose of reforming ecclesiastical abuses. Maxi- 
milian seconded warmly these proceedings, proposed for 
Germany a similar pragmatic sanction, and in a manifesto 
from his own hand said, " As there is evident necessity 
for the establishment of due order and decency both in 
the ecclesiastical and temporal state, I have resolved to 
call a general council, without which nothing permanent 
can be effected." A general council of German bishops 
met, therefore, at Augsburg, but it refused in any way 
to co-operate for the production of divisions in the 
Church. It was but by a certain number of Italian and 
French ecclesiastics, backed with the authority of Maxi- 
milian and Louis, that the Council of Pisa was appointed 
" to reform the churches in their head and in their limbs, 
also to punish the openly guilty who had left no hope of 
amendment and had long given great annoyance to the 
Catholic Church." The formal summons of the Council 
was signed by nine cardinals, of whom Bernardine Car- 
vajal, the Cardinal of Santa Croce, was the first. They 
grounded their right to issue such a summons partly on 


their rank as head, limbs, and defenders of the Church, 
partly on the necessity of such assemblies being held from 
time to time and on the absence of all hope of right 
ecclesiastical assistance from the Pope. They chose for 
the place of meeting, Pisa, because it was a neutral spot, 
against which, as a locality, the Pope could not justly 
complain, and before their appointed council they required 
Pope Julius himself to appear by the first day of Septem- 
ber; but as nobody liked to serve the summons on his 
Holiness, copies of it were affixed to the church doors in 
Rimini and other great Italian towns. 

To this schismatic council Julius appointed an opponent, 
in a council summoned by himself to meet at Rome in 
the church of the Lateran. Of the five Italian car- 
dinals who had publicly insulted him he named three as 
the most obdurate, the Cardinal of Santa Croce, spiritual 
head of the opposing movement, being of course one, and 
summoned them on pain of being stripped of all ecclesi- 
astical preferment. The other two he simply warned 
and summoned to the council in the Lateran. 

Thus we see that Cornelius, in accepting the post of 
Theologist to the Council of Pisa, was again fingering 
the pitch of heresy with orthodox intentions. Bernardino 
Carvajal, his patron, chose him not only because he was 
an able, bold, young doctor, known to many of the 
learned, though he had not yet published any writings, 
as a person of great power and promise, but no doubt, 
also, because he was a German. Not one German bishop 
would consent to go to Pisa ; it was well as far as possible 


to cover this deficiency, and in Cornelius he found a 
doctor who would represent the German party. 

Carvajal was a Spanish priest, and very active. His 
brother had been ambassador, in Portugal, of Ferdinand 
the Catholic. He had himself studied for the Church, 
partly in Spain, partly in Italy, and being at the Papal 
court, in Italy he had been made nuncio to Spain by 
Innocent VIII. Ferdinand and Isabella then sent him as 
ambassador to Rome. In 1493, Alexander VI. made him 
Cardinal di Santa Croce, he being then Bishop of Cartha- 
gena. He had before held the sees of Astorgas and 
Badajoz, afterwards he held those of Siguenzia and Pla- 
centia. Julius II. sent him to Germany as legate on 
Italian business, and being at the court of Maximilian, 
where he perhaps saw Agrippa, then being despatched 
to England, Carvajal was led to forsake the Pope, and 
to take the active part in subsequent affairs which placed 
him at the head of the Church party, summoning its 
chiefs to Pisa. He then held the see of Sabina, one of 
the chief Italian bishoprics, having a cardinal's hat con- 
nected with its mitre, and he was by this office the third 
in rank of the Pope's six assistant bishops. 

Consenting, then, to the offers of this chief, Cornelius 
repaired to Pisa towards the close of summer, and in so 
doing braved the terror of the Pope's excommunication. 
For on the twenty-sixth of July, 1511, Pope Julius had 
summoned to submission the three cardinals, Carvajal, 
Cardinal of Santa Croce, William of Narbonne, and 
Francis Cusentinus, their adherents, entertainers, and all 


helpers whatsoever, on pain of anathema, as guilty of 
heresy, schism, and lese majeste. Nevertheless the Council 
was formed, and Cornelius Agrippa joined it. 

Little was done. On the first of September the Council 
opened, but was, as a Church assembly, overmatched 
completely by the Papal power. The councillors were 
mobbed by the rabble of the town, and, after meeting 
twice in conclave, found it necessary to adjourn to Milan r 
every man getting to Milan as he could, across a hostile 
province. They made some faint attempts to resume 
sittings in Milan, and did in the following year but 
with that we have nothing here to do settle for a while 
in France. Cornelius seems to have earned some credit 
by displaying his ability of many kinds at Pisa. He 
taught Plato in the University. He delivered also a 
public Oration introductory to lectures upon Plato's 
Banquet; the topic of the Oration being Love, divine 
and human. His office, which is said to have been that 
of Theologian to the Council 1 , ceased when Pisa was 
abandoned. On the twenty-fourth of October, Carvajal 
was deprived of his cardinalate and his see 2 . He was not 
fully reinstated in his offices until the accession of the 
next Pope, Leo X., under whose rule he prospered during 
the remainder of his days. Cornelius returned to military 
work from his brief theological excursion, with the formal 
excommunication of the Pope declared against himself 
and his discomfited associates. 

1 In JBayle's Diet. ; but it is a guess of Bayle's. 

Annales Ecdes. Od. Raynaldi. Tom. xi. p. 572, etseq. 


Nevertheless he is not much distressed. We find him 
not forsaken by his kind, for we next hear of him flattered 
by a courtly friend, who finding from the barber that he 
is still in Gravellona, lays at his feet, with a magnificent 
humility, two bundles of home-grown asparagus 1 . We 
also read a letter of thanks and encouragement to an in- 
genious poet, who has forwarded to him for perusal some 
extremely stinging satires on his Holiness 2 . 

1 Ep. 26 and 27, Lib. i. - Ep. 28, Lib. i. 




THE war in Italy continued. Bologna had been taken 
for the French. Towards Christmas, 1511, a torrent of 
Swiss, carrying the great standard inscribed " Defenders 
of the Church, and subduers of Princes," had been 
poured by the Pope into the Milanese territory, had swept 
the French and German troops before them, and had 
marched upon the capital, from which they were diverted 
by the wit rather than the arms of the new governor of 
Milan, the gallant young Gaston de Foix, nephew to 
Louis. The Pope had been industrious. Recovering 
from a most dangerous illness, which prostrated him 
when his opponents were first opening their Pisan 
Council, he obtained the help not only of Ferdinand of 
Aragon, but also of the son-in-law of Ferdinand, Henry 
VIII. of England. What Maximilian had feared then 
came to pass. With these princes were joined the 
Venetians and some other Italian leaders, anxious to 
expel the French. Spanish troops were approaching 
on the side of Naples. Henry VIII., flattered by 


the title of Defender of the Faith, was preparing to 
make a serious diversion by invading France. Maxi- 
milian paused ; and, while he paused, the Pope plied 
him with promises. The Emperor became cold in the 
quarrel of the French. Nevertheless there were still his 
German bands in Italy, and with them there was Cornelius 
Agrippa. With Jacob von Empser for their leader, they 
were at the command of the chivalrous young general 
Gaston de Foix, who, hurrying to Bologna, took there 
the Pope's forces by surprise, and raised the siege of the 
town; then hastened to Brescia, and, after a fierce struggle, 
wrested Brescia from the Venetians ; marched then to 
Ravenna, and on Easter-day, in the year 1511, over- 
threw the army of the Pope: but, when the battle was 
won, perished in a hasty charge. With him though he 
was but a youth of one or two and twenty fell for a time 
the cause of France in Italy. Had he lived, he would 
assuredly have taken Rome. He fell, and his successor in 
command, when he had made himself safe in Ravenna, 
waited for instructions to be sent from Paris. Maximilian 
had deserted his ally. Before the battle of Ravenna, 
orders had been issued for the departure of the German 
troops out of the French army, but von Empser, their 
leader, generously urged upon Gaston that France should 
give battle, and use his services while he was still there to 
offer them. From that date the defection of the Germans 
went on rapidly. Maximilian was about to pass from 
alliance with France into enmity, and to participate with 
the King of England in the imminent invasion of the 


territories of King Louis. Such changes of side, founded 
upon motives rarely honourable, form throughout a notice- 
able feature in the history of these Italian struggles. In 
what way did they affect the fortunes of Cornelius 
Agrippa ? 

He seems to have released himself as much as possible 
out of the whole web of state policy. Not only did he 
remain in Italy, where he had found several learned 
friends, many of them being persons of high social im- 
portance, and where he had also obtained a patron in the 
Marquis of Monferrat, but he seems also to have abided, 
if he still served as a soldier, by the cause he had gone 
thither to maintain, as long as he could do so without 
formal disloyalty. In the summer of .the year 1512, 
Maximilian allowed passage through the Tyrol to a body 
of eighteen thousand Swiss, who were main instruments 
in the expulsion of the French from Italy. Jacob von 
Empser was still holding by the cause of France as if it 
were his master's, and when news came of the descent 
meditated by the Swiss and the Venetians, he was sta- 
tioned with a little garrison in Pavia. Cornelius was in 
Pavia too. The Swiss, Venetians, and troops of the Pope 
advanced, numerous and powerful, against the wreck of 
the French army, which was soon compelled to betake 
itself also to Pavia for refuge. There it made speed to 
add a bridge of boats to the stone bridge already existing, 
with the intention of so opening for themselves a way of 
flight, should further flight be necessary. All was done 
that could be done in two days for defence of the town- 


walls and gates; but in two days the Swiss were at the 
gates, and not long afterwards, by unknown means ob- 
tained an entrance through the castle, and were in the 
market-place. A deadly struggle then ensued ; many 
united with the Chevalier Bayard to keep the enemy in 
check while the retreat of the French army was com- 
menced across the bridge of boats. Presently word came 
that in small boats the Swiss were crossing, that escape 
would soon be made impossible; and the retreat over 
the bridge was hurried, under the protection of a body 
of three hundred German soldiers, 'who defended the 
approaches. The cavalry had already crossed, when a 
misfortune happened. A long culverin, named Madame 
de Fourly, taken as a trophy from the Spaniards at 
Ravenna, was being dragged across, the bridge broke 
under it, and the three hundred Germans were left in 
the power of the enemy. Many plunged into the water 
and were drowned, others were killed, some were made 
prisoners 1 . Cornelius Agrippa was made prisoner 3 . 

Reading Agrippa' s correspondence by the light of these 
events, we come to the conclusion that, diverted by his 
patron, William Palseologus, Marquis of Monferrat, from 
active military duty, he was still keeping his mind on the 
professorship, and labouring to push his fortunes as a 
scholar, when the war had reached its crisis. Certainly 
he was not at the battle of Ravenna, for that was fought 

1 Chronique de Bayart, par le Loyal Serviteur, ch. 55. Memoires de 
Fkurange, cap. 31. 

2 Ep. 33, Lib. i. p. 708. 


on the eleventh of April, and upon- the sixth we find 
Agrippa writing to Landulph 1 from the castle of a 
learned friend, Bartholomew Rosati, at a little place 
called Lavizaro, five miles from Novara, on the way to 
Mortara. He was staying at Lavizaro when the present 
of asparagus was sent by the friend in the adjoining little 
town of Gravellona, who had learnt from the barber of 
the district that he had postponed his intention of re- 
turning instantly to Milan. He was still at Lavizaro, 
meditating, not a hurried journey to Ravenna, but a 
leisurely return to Milan, when writing to Landulph six 
days before the battle : " Mind what I told you when I 
quitted Milan; do not give up a certainty for an un- 
certainty; nothing is more perilous than to rush without a 
skilful leader into the house of Dsedalus. Heed my advice, 
for our friendship compels me to be solicitous for the 
safety and comfort of us both. Wait but a little while, till 
I come back to Milan, and then I will show you the true 
way to glory, long, long contemplated. Either yield 
to my wish, or do nothing without telling me quietly 
what you mean to do." The house of Daedalus, the maker 
of the Labyrinth, was, possibly, the maze of European 
politics, then, as we have seen, in a dangerously compli- 
cated state, and Agrippa seems to have been afraid lest 
his friend might commit himself to a search after fortune 
in the midst of it. The answer of Landulph reported him 
at Pa via, and thereupon, on the nineteenth of April 3 , 
Ep. 29, Lib. i. pp. 706-7. 2 Ep. 30, Lib. i. p. 707. 


a week after the battle of Ravenna, Cornelius, who is still 
at Lavizaro, expresses his great satisfaction, and adds, 
"You have gone there as my precursor, for to betake 
myself thither has been now for a long course of days my 
secret meditation ; I will now carry out my thoughts and 
soon be with you. When I am come you may set care 
aside, for I will not cheat you with promises, but give you 
a real help over your doubts where it is needed ; and so, 
having put your affairs in prosperous condition, we will 
take counsel as to what next shall be done." 

The patron by whose help all difficulties in the way of 
a convenient settlement at Pavia were to be conquered, 
was William Palaeologus, Marquis of Monferrat. Mon- 
ferrat, which sixty years afterwards became a duchy, was 
then an ancient Lombard marquisate, close upon Pavia, 
having not quite three hundred square miles of domain. 
It was made a marquisate by Otho I. in the year 967, and 
in 1305 the original main line died out, John the Just 
leaving no nearer heir than the son of his sister Violante 
by the Greek emperor Andronicus II. Thus the imperial 
name of Palseologus came to be that of the Marquises of 
Monferrat, the William who was Agrippa's patron being 
descended from the son of Violante, Theodore Comnenus 
Palseologus. William was the last of the race but one. 
John George, his successor, who had been Bishop of 
Casale, died in 1533 while making arrangements for his 
marriage, and so the succession was thrown open to 
dispute. It was generally at Casale, the most important 
of his towns, that the Marquis of Monferrat had Agrippa's 


company, but when Agrippa was at Lavizaro he was not 
at a great distance from him. 

Having written to Landulph that he intended joining 
him at Pavia, Cornelius very soon followed his letter. 
Before the close of the same month he is with his friend, 
and sends a cabalistical book, with a little note, from 
Pavia to a learned priest who had desired to borrow it. 
The note is of a kind to prove that his mind has not been 
changed by the attacks of Catilinet, or his experiences of 
the theological discussions at Cologne. 

" I send you," he says in it 1 , " venerable Father Chry- 
sostom, that little cabalistical book you wished for : con- 
cerning which I would not have you ignorant that this is 
the divine science sublime beyond all human tracing, 
which, if it become intelligible to you by continual re- 
flection, will fill your entire mind abundantly with all 
good things. The whole art is indeed sacred and divine, 
and, without doubt, of efficacy: therefore, my Chrysostom, 
while you are so eager to exercise yourself therein, cover 
with silence the great mystery within the secret depths of 
your religious heart, conceal it with a constant taciturnity ; 
for it would be an irreligious act to publish to the know- 
ledge of the multitude a language so full of the majesty 
of Heaven. Farewell. Pavia, April 30, 1512." 

Not very long afterwards, Agrippa being still at Pavia, 

and Landulph having gone or been sent to Lavizaro, very 

possibly to make some application to the Marquis of Mon- 

ferrat, the storm flies towards the University town. The 

1 EI>. 31, Lib. i. p. 707. 


German garrison is first put in, and then the whole camp 
hurries to take shelter behind its walls. Affairs being in 
this state, Landulph, writing from Lavizaro 1 , says : 

" Greatest Agrippa, other self, anxious about your po- 
sition, where you may be, what you may be doing, and 
how you prosper among these tumults of war, unable to 
reach you myself safely I write this letter that you may 
know what I do and where I am, for I am here to watch 
in person over my own welfare, which would perish were 
I absent." (The welfare over which he watches, as his 
own, includes that of his wife and his two little ones.) 
" Ascertain whether Francis, the son of George Supersax, 
is in the camp" (George auf der Flue, called Suprasaxus, 
was a Wallachian chief, who obtained great fame for his 
prowess in those wars, and, I think, at this time was in the 
castle of St. Angelo, imprisoned by the Pope for worrying 
a bishop. As soon as he was released, he fastened on 
the same bishop again with a fresh relish. He had 
twelve sons and eleven daughters. Of one of the sons, 
then, Francis, wrote Landulph, Find out whether he is 
in the camp at Pavia), " for he is my intimate friend. If 
there be any other friends of yours there, tell me ; for this 
is a time when friends are needed. I heard much of the 
tumult at Pavia" (namely, the rush of the French troops 
to the cover of its walls) ; " but however it may be, if 
you are well, I am glad. Commend me to our common 
acquaintance. I suspect that Pavia will not be the plea- 
santest of dwelling-places, yet I would not have run away 
1 Ep. 32, Lib. i. p. 708. 


from you so soon, but would have postponed everything 
on your behalf, as I have done before, if you were not 
relying on the friendship of the magnificent Lancelot 
Lunate, who loves you before everything. As soon as 
the road is safe I will make haste to come to you. La- 
vizaro, June 24, 1512." 

Before Landulph wrote next, his friend had been made 
prisoner in the last struggle at Pavia. " Most excellent 
Agrippa," runs the letter 1 , " Domitius brought me word 
to-day that you had been captured by the Swiss, but had 
regained your freedom without much difficulty, and re- 
turned to Milan with the magnificent Lancelot : most 
welcome news to me. He also bade me, in your name, 
having heard that the Swiss are gone, make speed to join 
you. Therefore, I wish to know what you propose doing : 
Do you mean to be at Pavia, or with the Marquis of 
Monferrat? I will not be wanting to you ; only tell me 
what I am to do. Lavizaro, July 13, 1512." 

The family of Lunate, which at this critical time yielded 
a friend to Cornelius, belonged to Pavia, and was one of 
considerable importance. Its last chief had been Bernar- 
dine, successively apostolical protonotary and cardinal 
deacon, who had been employed by Alexander VI. as a 
legate in the struggles with his enemies at Rome. He 
had died fifteen years before this time, aged only forty- 
five. Of his successor, Lancelot, I know only that in 
Agrippa's correspondence he is, whenever named, entitled, 
as a noble, the Magnificent. 

1 Ep. 33, Lib.-L p. 708. 


The dangers of travel, dreaded by Landulph, were at 
that time serious, for they depended not only on the pre- 
sence of so many hostile bands, but they were aggravated 
by the fury of the Lombard people. Having suffered 
from the licence of the French camp grievous wrongs, the 
native peasantry fell savagely at last upon every French- 
man not protected by the presence of an army. In this 
year, 1512, fifteen hundred French soldiers and merchants 
are said to have been massacred in detail, their goods 
being also plundered, after the departure of the French 
general, Trivulzio, from Milan. Houses and shops that 
belonged to persons friendly to the French were broken 
into and destroyed 1 . In a little house at Milan, Landulph 
had established his small family. Thither he journeyed 
one October day, accompanied by his brother Gian An- 
gelo, who had but lately joined him, and he reached 
Milan in time to find his home invaded by six Swiss 
foot-soldiers, to whom it had been pointed out by a spy 
as the house of a man favourable to the French. But 
for his brother's help, he says, there would have been an 
end of everything 3 . Landulph's family, however, was in 
safe shelter within the castle of his friend at Lavizaro, 
which contained a garrison of forty fugitives from Pa via. 
In that town it may here be said that Galbianus, who had 
been so active a promoter of the Catalonian enterprise 
narrated at the outset of this history, was killed when 
Cornelius was taken prisoner 3 . 

1 Muratori, sub anno MDXII. - Ep. 35, Lib. i. p. 709. 

3 Ep. 34, Lib. i. p. 708 ; and for the next citation. 


"Nothing," Landulph writes to Agrippa, "can be 
clone in the midst of this confusion. If you were here, 
the time would suit for doing something with the Marquis 
of Monferrat." Now, Monferrat was in arms at the head 
of his own vassals, waging, like other native princes, inde- 
pendent war 1 ; on behalf of himself in the first instance, 
and as far as Milan was concerned of Maximilian 
Sforza. The cause of Sforza was that of the Emperor in 
a great measure, but in no degree that of the King of 
France. "We are all well," writes Landulph 2 , "except 
my brother Francis, sick of fever. My son Camille, who 
lives in you" (Cornelius had won the heart of his friend's 
child), " our little daughter Prudence, and my wife Pen- 
thesilea are well. Should Pavia prove unsafe, we must 
find a better place. Take care of your health ; nothing is 
fitter at a time like this than to rest under the trees 
in this rich country, and care only about being well." 
Thus he wrote to his friend in the ripe August weather. 
But Agrippa was no man to sleep through the hot noon 
of trial. He could live only by following his calling 
as a soldier, and though his camp study was divine philo- 
sophy, though all his hopes and efforts were bent on an 
escape into a pure scholastic life, he yet knew that he had 
bread to earn for wife and child 3 , and in the midst of 
tumult and confusion he must strive to earn it. His 
dependence now must be upon Monferrat and Milan. 

There was an end for the present of the French in 
Milan. By the close of the year, except here and there a 

1 Muratori. 3 Ep. 34, Lib. i. s Ep. 49, Lib. i. p. 715. 

VOL. I. T 


little garrison, not a French soldier maintained ground in 
the duchy. The French being expelled, contest arose for 
the possession of the soil. Emperor Maximilian desired 
it, but the Pope was unwilling to favour his desire. At 
the same time, nearly all the smaller chiefs of Italy chose 
rather to have a man of their own standing than a lofty 
monarch in the midst of them. By promises and bribes, 
therefore, the negotiation ended in the Emperor's consent 
that the duchy should be granted to its proper ruling fa- 
mily; and, accordingly, on the twenty-ninth of December, 
1512, Maximilian Sforza, who had been an exile from his 
ninth year to his twenty-first, re-entered Milan as its duke. 
He was escorted by a troop of Swiss, and their great orator, 
the Cardinal of the Swiss town of Sion, Matthew Scheiner, 
a man of the people, in succession street-singer, school- 
master, curate, canon of the little town of Sion, who 
poured the violence and obstinacy of his hatred to the 
French into fierce words, and also was a man at all times 
ready with the sword. He was, indeed, said to have 
obtained his bishopric by threatening the chapter sword in 
hand. This chief of the Swiss finally was made Cardinal 
of Sion, in the Valais, to please his countrymen, over 
whom he of all men had the greatest influence. The new v 
duke, entering his capital so attended, was met as he 
rode under the Pisan Gate by more than a hundred gentle- 
men of Milan, attired in the colours of his livery ; and 
preceded by this escort, he rode under numerous triumphal 
arches to the ducal court there was a French garrison 
still holding the castle and with the glad consent of the 


people was then formally hailed as Maximilian Sforza, 
Duke of Milan, the authority being bestowed upon him in 
distinct terms as the gift of the Swiss 1 . 

While these changes were in progress, Cornelius 
Agrippa was attaching himself formally as a retainer- to 
the Marquis of Monferrat, whose cause having become 
that of the Emperor could be espoused without disloyalty. 
Towards the close of November (1512), he was settled at 
Monferrat's chief town of Casale 2 . 

In the February following, Pope Julius II. died, and 
the cardinals making haste to avoid overt signs of the 
Emperor's ambition, chose their Pope from the house of 
the Medici, Leo X. Louis of France, having made peace 
in Italy by a treaty with Venice, sought to be reconciled 
with the new Pope, and offered both to abandon the 
Council of Pisa still sitting in France and to become a 
good, devout, and obedient son to the Holy See, if only 
his Holiness would revoke the censures of his predecessors. 
With the king, Leo temporised, but what the king did 
not obtain readily, was graciously accorded to the humble 
scholar. On behalf of Cornelius Agrippa, friendly re- 
presentations had been made by Ennius Filonardus, 
bishop of a little town in the Campagna, called Veroli, 
and in the first year of the new pontificate, a kind letter 
was sent to Cornelius Agrippa, from the hand of Leo's 
secretary, Peter Bembo, himself a good scholar, not then 
known as cardinal, but as the author of a book of love 

1 Storia di Milano ; del Conte Pietro Verri, cap. xxi. 

2 Ep. 37, Lib. i. p. 710. 



dialogues, the Azolani, well studied by thousands of his 
countrymen. Four months after his elevation to St. 
Peter's Chair thus Leo revokes, by the hand of his secre- 
tary, the anathemas of Julius 1 : 

* " Beloved son, health to you and the apostolic bene- 
diction. From letters of our venerable brother and nuncio, 
Ennius, Bishop of Veroli, and from the speech of others, 
we have learnt your devotion to the holy apostolic seat, 
and your diligent care to maintain its safety and its free- 
dom ; which information has been very welcome to us. 
Wherefore we commend you greatly in the Lord, praising 
that temper and courage ; we also exhort you to remain 
in the same mind and obedience both towards the seat 
itself and towards ourselves, ready to show, as occasion 
offers, in all things your good desert, and that you are 
received into the bosom of our paternal charity. Of these 
things our before-named nuncio will speak to you more 
fully. Given at St. Peter's at Rome, under the seal of 
the Fisherman, on the eleventh of July, 1513. In the 
first year of our Pontificate." 

Reconciled formally to the head of the Church, Cor- 
nelius was now free to pursue his design of winning way 
as a philosopher at Pavia. He wore no scholar's dress, 
for he was captain of a troop of soldiers, owning Maxi- 
milian Sforza for their master 3 . The new duke was a 
young spendthrift, who was not only at great charge 
to maintain troops paying a hundred thousand ducats 

1 Ep. 38, Lib. i. p. 710. 

3 H. C. Agrippce Orationes, N. II. Op. Tom. ii. p. 1075. 


yearly to the Swiss, seventy-four thousand to other men- 
at-arms, as much among garrisons of castles, and so forth 
but he also lavished costly favours on his table-com- 
panions, among whom there was one who amused himself 
especially, and no doubt paid to be entertained, with the 
researches of Cornelius, Oldrado Lampugnano, who was 
made by the duke Count of Rivolta 1 . Casale, Milan, and 
Rivolta became, therefore, places at which it was profit- 
able for Agrippa to employ himself. Louis of France, 
while engaged in meeting the invasion of his territory by 
Henry VIII. and the Emperor, who had combined by 
treaty at Malines under the Princess Margaret's good 
auspices, [to fight the French, Louis, thus occupied at 
home, had sent an army to the Milanese when he heard 
how ill the new duke sped in winning the affections of his 
people. But if the Italians were learning to despise their 
own prince, they had learnt to hate the foreigner ; and 
the French army, beaten at Novara, was chased speedily 
over the border. Except only this burst of war, in the 
year 1513, there was little to demand Agrippa's service 
as a soldier, either in that year or the next, which was a 
year of general accommodation and pacification. Such 
leisure, therefore, as the times afforded, was spent in the 
cultivation of congenial friendships : that of Augustine 
Ritius 3 , the astronomer; that of the more enlightened 
bishops and priests living (as far too many did, away from 

1 Verri, Storia di Milano. Cornelius is said to be living at Eivolta. 
Ep. 41, Lib. i. p. 711. 

2 Agrippa, De Incertitudine et Vanitate Scientianim, cap. xxx. 


their own sees) in Milan ; finally, that of the great lords, 
who chose to derive intellectual amusement from his know- 
ledge. Upon some of that political business of the duchy 
with which the Swiss were from the beginning so in- 
extricably bound, towards the end of the year 1513, or at 
the beginning of the year 1514, Agrippa was sent to 
Switzerland 1 , and there he became associated in the 
public trust with Alexander Landi 2 , a man of good 

1 Ep. 40, Lib. i. p. 711. 

2 It is right to state here that this part of the narrative, so far as con- 
cerns Alexander Landi and the Count of Rivolta, is not perfectly reliable. 
Agrippa's letters tally, as the reader may perceive, most perfectly with 
the other trustworthy records of the time, but I find in the forty-second 
letter of the first book a sentence which would make Alexander Landi the 
Count of Rivolta, and give the letters I ascribe to Landi to an unknown 
friend. (Many of them, including nearly all Landulph's, are headed only 
Amicits ad Agrippam, but in most cases the writer of each is obvious from 
internal evidence.) Now against Alexander Landi's countship of Rivolta 
have to be set these facts : that Count Verri, in his Storia di Milano, gives 
Rivolta at this time to Oldrado Lampugnano ; that in Agrippa's corre- 
spondence the Count of Rivolta is complained of as a man " qui nostras 
vigilias in suam trahere debeat lasciviam," a notion of him very well ac- 
cording with Verri's mention of Lampugnano as a creature of Sforza, and 
not at all according with Agrippa's mention of Alexander Landi in his De 
triplici ratione cognoscendi Dei, as one to whom the depths of his heart were 
laid open in spiritual converse ; again, that I can find no note elsewhere of 
a Landi of Placentia having been Count of Rivolta. There are other argu- 
ments drawn from internal evidence upon which it would be tedious to 
dwell. Considerations of this kind appear to justify the clearing up of 
every difficulty by changing in the text of one of Agrippa's letters an 
accusative into a dative in the case of a proper name, which may have 
been written in a contracted form and developed incorrectly, as indeed it is 
also misspelt (Laudum for Landum) by the printer. In Letter 42 (Book I.), 
instead of " Nuperrime mihi relatum fuit, Alexandrum Laudum comitem 
Ripaltse te Placentiae convenisse," &c., I read, " Nuperrime mihi relatum 
fuit, Alexandra Lando, comitem Ripaltse," &c. The comic formality of the 
" to me, Alexander Landi" would be quite in place here, for the letter, which 
is not a long one, opens with a joke, and in this part the writer might be 


family from Placentia, a friend, having like tastes with his 
own. The Landis of Placentia yielded in the next gene- 
ration a professor of medicine to Pavia, Bassiano Landi ; 
and another of the house was Marquis of Casale, and a 
writer upon jurisprudence. Alexander complained after- 
wards of a betrayal by Cornelius of his learned secrets to 
the Count of Rivolta. They were at the service of any 
other of Agrippa's friends, but the Count of Rivolta, said 
this new acquaintance, is a libertine unworthy to profit by 
the scholar's vigils. As an associate of the young Duke 
of Milan, he most probably deserved this character. 

Complaint of this kind was no source of serious dis- 
pute. Cornelius is busy in the house of Landi, at Pla- 
centia, in August of the year 1514; he has some work to 
do, and his friend writes to urge that he will get it done 
with all speed, and then repairing to Milan, do what 
has to be done there make, perhaps, the due report 
and get his travelling expenses for an expedition to the 
Papal court. Such an expedition is designed, and there 
is no reason why they should not make it together. There 
had also been an embassy from the Duke of Milan to the 
German court, in which a friend of Agrippa's shared, who 
would have been glad if the young scholar had been 
associated with the party. 

In the house at Placentia, Cornelius, as busy over his 
own private study of the Cabalists and of Mercurius Tris- 

glad to cover with half-joking phrase a word of complaint which is com- 
plaint, but yet on which he does not wish to dwell unkindly. The change 
here made may be wrong. 


raegistus as over any public matters, had amused himself 
by sketching a large Mercury with charcoal upon one of 
Landi's walls. Upon this freak followed some grim jest- 
ing in his friend's next letter. Mercury is a flying god, 
take heed that the black charcoal in your picture of him 
be not ominous 1 . Your philosophy is under a mutable 
and often unfriendly patron, and there does, indeed, go 
fire and fagot to the tracing of it. May there come 
nothing worse of the kind near your skin than a morsel 
of cold charcoal between the fingers. Such was the pur- 
port of the joke, that played with a real terror. But 
Cornelius was very fearless. Cabalism, at any rate, was 
likely to be received better at Pavia than at Cologne ; and 
by the help of Mercury he was then hoping very quickly 
to achieve the object kept so steadfastly in view since the 
first day that he set out from Trent for the Italian wars. 

And truly, when the summer of the next year came, 
the year 1515, Cornelius, then twenty-nine years old, 
seemed to have entered on the summer of his life. Lan- 
dulph had gone before him to secure new friends 2 , and 
Monferrat probably had influenced his brother-Marquis, 
John Gonzaga, who was then at the head of the University 
of Pavia. Such influence had probably been sought, and 
could not have been slight, inasmuch as the two houses, 
Monferrat and Gonzaga, intermarried soon after this time, 
and for want of nearer heirs the domain, together with 
the title of Monferrat, passed within twenty years into the 
hands of the Gonzagas of Mantua. 

1 Ep. 42, Lib. i. - Ep. 45, Lib. i. 


At last, therefore, before the most illustrious Marquis 
and the most excellent Fathers in the town and University 
of Pavia, Cornelius stands forward as a scholar, and within 
the precincts of the University displays his learning and 
his deep research into occult science, especially as an 
exponent of the Pimander of Hermes Trismegistus. His 
introductory oration is among the printed works that 
have come down to us 1 . He tells how, beset by cares 
and heavy duties during the past three years of miserable 
war, he has desired to find safe passage to some happy 
shore across the sea of blood. To do this it was requisite 
to find some duty, and a worthy one, but he could see 
none better or less inconsistent with his profession of arms 
than to interpret the mystery of a divine philosophy in 
that most flourishing gymnasium. His natural bent had 
been from early youth to a consideration of divine 
mysteries, and he had never known a more delightful 
spectacle for contemplation than the wise ordering of 
nature. To learn these mysteries and teach them to others 
had been at all times his chief ambition, as he had already 
taught them to some students in the University of Pisa. 
Nevertheless, he feared lest the consummate scholars 
before whom he ventured to ascend the chair he then 
was occupying might resent as insolent presumption or 
temerity the attempt of a barbarian, a soldier in the dress 
of strangers, still in the crude immaturity of life, to teach 
matters so grave, that belonged rather to the practised 
skill of the maturest doctors. 

1 Oratio. II. habita Papia, &c. Op. Tom. ii. p. 1073. 


Then he speaks confidently of his power to do that 
which he has undertaken. For his youth he says, that 
the young can sometimes discriminate as well as, or even 
better than more aged persons ; that good wit comes by 
intelligence, not lapse of time. He refers to the youth of 
Samuel, Solomon, and Daniel. Neither must the illustrious 
Marquis John Gonzaga, that brave general, wonder at 
seeing in the pulpit, as professor of sacred letters, one 
whpm he had known of late years as a captain over sol- 
diers in the most fortunate Imperial camp, nor must that 
pure audience reject as profane a man whose hands have 
been imbrued in human blood. Among the old poets and 
prophets, Pallas and Bellona were a single deity, and 
there are many examples of men eminent alike in arts 
and arms. To say nothing of Demosthenes, strenuous 
orator, who in war cast his shield away and fled before 
the enemy, there were unconquered Scipios and Catos, 
innumerable Roman and Greek chiefs, above all there 
was Julius Caesar, and there was Charlemagne. It was of 
a centurion also that our Master said he had not found 
faith equal to his in Israel. He adds, according to the 
way of the time, more illustrations, and ends with the 
golden sword which Jeremiah the prophet was seen to 
present to Judas Maccabaeus, saying, Receive the holy 
sword, a gift from God, wherewith to smite the adversaries 
of my people. " With which words," says Agrippa, " my 
unconquered Emperor did consecrate me also when, having 
almost as a boy received the sword from his hands, I 
became known as a not unsuccessful soldier." But is he 


a barbarian ? Barbarians, he urges, are rational beings, 
who breathe God's air and receive His gifts ; as for his 
foreign dress, the beard and tattered cloak do not make 
the philosopher, and the cowl does not make the monk. 
Wisdom resides not in the clothes. He has been urged, 
he says, to prosecute the studies of his choice by many 
hearers with most cogent reasons, counselled and helped 
by friends who, with innumerable helpful kindnesses have 
stimulated him to continue what he had begun. " The 
Gospel, too," he adds, " compels me, lest I be convicted of 
ingratitude towards both God and man, by burying the 
talent that has been entrusted to me, or hiding my light 
under a bushel, and at last fall under one curse with the 
fig-tree that yielded not its fruit in the due season." 
It is just to the young orator to remember that in his 
days a proper or more than proper self-consciousness 
passed commonly in the public addresses of the learned 
into what we should now consider an improper self- 
assertion. It was rare for a great scholar to be at once 
self-conscious and self-contained. The purer aspirations 
of Cornelius are mingled with a great deal of man's com- 
moner ambition. For both his aspiration's and ambition's 
sake, and for his wife's sake, he desired to achieve at 
Pavia the object of his wishes; he has been once turned 
aside by a harsh opposition to his effort to forsake the 
military road to fame, and follow Jiappily the peaceful 
bent of his true genius. Now he is twenty-nine years 
old, and, whatever he may have written, he has published 
nothing; he is bound still to the camp, and his heart, 


young still, but conscious of the rapid flight of life, is in 
its own depths pleading nervously and piteously through 
the words of this oration. May no Catilinet arise to cross 
me here. Soldier and stranger as I am, my soul is that 
of a true scholar ; I can learn and teach, and to do both 
unhindered, living happily with wife and family, a scholar 
among scholars, is the dear wish of my heart. Grave 
doctors of Pavia, do not quench the fire upon the little 
hearth that I have lighted among you. 

Having endeavoured to remove objections likely to be 
urged against himself, Cornelius briefly refers to the fit- 
ness of the time for his discussions now that peace has 
followed upon war, and days of liberty have been secured 
to them by the courage and wisdom of that most uncon- 
quered triumpher over his enemies, Hercules Maximilian 
Sforza, eighth Duke of Milan. A passing compliment is 
paid to John Gonzaga, and the subject of the lectures is 
at last approached. They are upon Mercury or Hermes 
Trismegistus, and will give the spirit of his dialogues on 
the Divine Power and Wisdom. Cornelius explains first 
who Hermes is, and, according to the teaching of the 
Rabbi Abraham of Avenazre, identifies him with Enoch. 
He gave laws to Egypt, was the first observer of the stars, 
the author and inventor of Theology ; the author, too, in 
a material sense, of twenty-six thousand five hundred and 
twenty-five volumes C;f books, wherein were contained 
stupendous mysteries. " When dying," adds Agrippa, 
" it is said that he thus addressed those standing round 
about him : ' Thus far, my children, driven from my own 


country I have lived a pilgrim and an exile, now, how- 
ever, I return in safety to my home. When after a little 
time, the chains of the body being loosened, I shall have 
departed from you, never weep for me as dead, for I re- 
enter that best and happy city to which its citizens all 
come through the corruption of death. For there God 
only is the great Prince, who fills His citizens with 
wonder-working sweetness.' But enough 'of the author. 
We will now speak only of his book. Its title is, Pimander ; 
or, Upon the Wisdom and Power of God. It is a book 
most choice for the elegance of its language, most weighty 
for the abundance of its information, full of grace and 
propriety, full of wisdom and mysteries. For it contains 
the profoundest mysteries of the most ancient theology, 
and the arcana of all philosophy, which things it may not 
be so much said to contain as to explain. For it teaches 
us, what God is, what the world, what a mind, what each 
sort of demon, what the soul, what the ordering of Pro- 
vidence, what and whence the necessity of Fate, what the 
law of nature, what human justice, what religion, what 
sacred ceremonies, rites, temples, observances, and holy 
mysteries ; it instructs us besides in the knowledge of 
ourselves, on the soaring of the intellect, on secret prayers, 
marriage with Heaven, and the sacrament of regenera- 
tion." This sort of book Agrippa proposes to explain 
and illustrate, partly theologically, partly philosophically, 
partly dialectically and rhetorically, enumerating per- 
tinent texts, authorities, examples, and experiences, and 
confirming the doctrine of the book, as occasion offers, by 


the sanction of ecclesiastical and civil law. With the 
unpublished books of Occult Philosophy among his papers, 
and with the knowledge of the fact that in these lectures 
he desires to prove his own accomplishments as a phy- 
sician, a lawyer, and a theologian, we can conceive very 
well what these lectures upon Hermes Trismegistus were. 
He formally and carefully disclaimed the heresy of any 
word that he might say contrary to the opinion of the 
holy Church, and, with that reserve upon all points of 
philosophy and doctrine that might happen to be touched 
upon in the course of his demonstrations, he declared 
himself ready at the commencement of each lecture to 
reply to every question that had been asked verbally or in 
writing, and answer every objection that had been made 
at the conclusion of the last. But the questions and 
objections must be put upon substantial grounds, and in 
good faith be meant to correct error or increase know- 
ledge. For at the same time he declared that of the 
vain syllogisms of the dialecticians, who care not for 
the matter discussed, but only for the disputation, who 
grind truth to powder with their altercations, and, there- 
after, care not by how light a wind it may be blown 
away, of any idle puzzles contrived for him by persons of 
this class he should take no notice whatever. 

In this mood, then, Cornelius proceeded, and with 
much applause, to sketch a Mercury before the University 
of Pavia. His Mercury has lost, through later criticism, 
the divine proportions he ascribed to it. The man him- 
self is now regarded as a myth ; indeed there are reckoned 


among the myths of Egypt generally two, and sometimes 
three, fabulous persons of the name ; the oldest, known in 
his own land as Thoyt or Thoth, being the first form of 
the Hermes and Mercury of Greece and Rome. He was, in 
brief, the inventor of all human knowledge, and the source 
of the Hermetic Art of alchemists. The Hermes Tris- 
megistus, so much honoured in the sixteenth century, 
came, according to JElian, one thousand years later, in 
the time of Sesostris, restored lost arts, taught observation 
of the stars, and, having invented hieroglyphics, wrote 
his wisdom upon pillars. Others bring even a third 
Mercury upon the scene, and consider him to be but a 
third manifestation of one deity, calling him Trismegistus, 
not as thrice great, but thrice born to sinless life. There 
was one Hermes only commonly referred to in the writings 
of the Cabalist, and he was not the most ancient, old 
myth as he was. For many of the books ascribed to him, 
and certainly for the Pimander, we are indebted to the 
Alexandrian philosophers, who combined Jewish, Greek, 
and Christian opinions with fragments of Egyptian tradi- 
tion, and produced in that way, by the manufacture of a 
prophet, evidence apparently almost as old as man, in 
favour of their tenets. Also because the name of Hermes 
would give currency to any book, books written in that 
name were very numerous. 

The Mercury sketched by Agrippa proved auspicious, 
leading him, not to martyrdom, but to the best fulfilment of 
his hope. He was admitted by the University of Pavia 
to its degree of doctor in each faculty. Doctor of Divinity 


before, he became then Doctor of Medicine and Law 1 . Soon 
afterwards, in welcoming as orator for the University 
an after-comer to the doctorate of law, we find him 
expatiating upon jurisprudence, quoting Ulpian, and 
speaking throughout the language of the lawyers 2 . Ere 
long, too, we shall see him a practitioner of medicine. 
Doctor of law, physic, and divinity, he has also before 
this time earned a knighthood on the battle-field. 

In what battle he won that distinction we are not 
informed. He himself says, after telling of his acquisi- 
tion of the dignity of Doctor "utriusque juris" and of 
Medicine, as if by after- thought : "Before that time I 
was a knight, which rank I did not beg for, borrow in 
foreign travels, or secure by impudence and insolence at 
the inthronisation of a king, but earned it by valour in 
war, among the troops in open battle 3 ." 

He has secured, therefore, the best honours attainable 
in arts and arms. He is acquainted at this time with 
eight languages, master of six. He is distinguished 
among the learned for his cultivation of occult philosophy, 
upon which he has a complete work in manuscript, and 
though he has not yet committed anything to press, much 
has been written by him upon which he hopes to rest a 
title to fair fame. He is not now unprosperous. There 
is a lull in war, during which he receives the pay to 
which he is entitled for his military services, and can earn 
money also as a teacher in the University. He has a wife 

1 Ep. 21, Lib. vii. p. 1021. 

2 Oratio. HI. Pro Quodam Doctorando. Op. Tom. ii. p. 1084. 

3 Ep. 21, Lib. vii. p. 1021 ; and for what follows until the next reference. 


whom he loves dearly, and more than a single child. 
With these he has settled in the town of Pavia. His wife's 
father and her brother are there also. The father seems 
to have been with the army, and to have shared some 
of his son-in-law's responsibility in the matter of the 
Council of Pisa, for a Franciscus of his name was sent to 
the Pope on a mission from the Cardinal of Santa Croce 1 . 
Cornelius thinks of his wife with the utmost tenderness. 
" I give," he writes to a friend 2 , " innumerable thanks to 
the omnipotent God, who has joined me to a wife after 
my own heart ; a maiden noble and well-mannered, 
young, beautiful, who lives so much in harmony with all 
my habits, that never has a word of scolding dropped 
between us, and wherein I count myself happiest of all, 
however our affairs change, in prosperity and adversity 
always alike kind to me, alike affable, constant; most 
just in mind and sound in counsel, always self-possessed." 
When he said that, it was after three years more of life 
than have been yet accounted for, three years of severe 
trial, among which the sorest, at the period of which we 
now speak, was at hand. His Mercury proved truly a 
winged god. The ripe fruit of his ambition, which 
Agrippa counted himself happy to have plucked, crumbled 
to ashes in his mouth. In a few months the fire was 
quenched upon the little hearth at Pavia, and he who had 
been at so much pains to kindle it went forth a beggar, 
with no prospect of advancement in the world. 

Annales Eccksiast. Odoric Rinaldi. Tom. xi. p. 581. 
2 Ep. 19, Lib. ii. p. 736. 

VOL. I. 



FORTUNE of war changed very suddenly the tenor of 
Agrippa's life. The year 1515 opened with the death of 
Louis XII. of France. Francis I., who succeeded him, a 
youth of twenty-one, directed his attention promptly to 
the Milanese. He raised a considerable army, which he 
proposed to accompany, and did accompany, in person 
into Italy. The hope of the duchy was entirely in the 
Swiss, and the fomenter of their zeal, the Cardinal of 
Sion, moving about the town in the brown dress of a 
civilian 1 , was so much master there, that he could even 
venture to put to the torture the duke's cousin, Ottaviano 
Sforza, Bishop of Lodi, upon the most vague suspicion of 
communication with the enemy. The Swiss attempted to 
defend the passes of the Alps, but the French army eluded 
them, and crossed in safety by a perilous way, over which 
the enemy had set no watch. The Swiss retired to defend 

Francis had leagued himself with the Venetians. Empe- 

1 The narrative in this chapter is generally made out by collation of 
Agrippa's writings with Count Verri's Storia di Milano. 


ror Maximilian united with the Pope and King of Naples 
to maintain Maximilian Sforza in his duchy, and the 
smaller Italian chiefs opposed the prospect of a powerful 
and active king for neighbour. When the French army 
approached Milan, all the force available was mustered. 
On the tenth of September, the Cardinal of Sion brought 
a large body of Swiss into the town. The Duke of 
Savoy, the Marquis of Monferrat, the Marquis of Saluzzo, 
and others, prepared also for battle, and the ill-starred 
Cornelius Agrippa was called to the field again. King 
Francis had in succession occupied various towns, marched 
to Binasco; had marched thence to Pavia. There was an 
end of study. The new doctor took the written produce 
of his labours with him into Milan, and, on the four- 
teenth of September, met the French in arms at Marig- 
nano. The battle, as the world knows, was as desperate 
as it was, for the time, decisive in its issue. The Swiss, 
fighting for Maximilian under the promise of eight hun- 
dred thousand gold ducats if they won the day, fought 
the day through ; when night closed the two armies lay 
down on the battle-field to rise and end the struggle as 
the light should serve them. On the following morning 
the arrival of Venetian reinforcements secured victory to 
the French ; the Swiss and the Italians were routed, and 
Cornelius lost in the rout a pocket-full of manuscripts. 
Among smaller writings and detached notes there were 
thus lost his commentaries on the Epistle of Paul to the 
Romans, completed as far as the sixth chapter, besides a 
small bundle of commentaries, as yet only roughly noted, 


on his own Books of Occult Philosophy. There was a 
pupil of his among the combatants, Christopher Schilling, 
of Lucerne, who saw the sheets departing from their 
owner, and, in the heat of battle, mindful of the cause of 
scholarship, plunged forward to rescue them. Cornelius 
heard afterwards of this, and that some papers had so been 
saved; perhaps, therefore, his loss was not irreparable 1 . 

His position otherwise was, by the victory of the French 
at Marignano, rendered desperate. King Francis fixed 
his military residence at Pavia, while Maximilian Sforza 
made what terms he could, still holding the citadel of 
Milan. Constable Bourbon was governor for Francis in 
the town. On the eighth of October the citadel was 
ceded to the French two years had not elapsed since 
they last quitted it and Maximilian Sforza withdrew to 
French soil upon a pension, glad, he said, to be quit of 
slavery and the Swiss, the Emperor's caprices, and the 
thieves of Spain. Sforza might so retire, the neighbouring 
Italian princes might accept the stern arbitrement of war, 
and ride, as they did on the eleventh of October, with 
the Marquis of Monferrat among them, as the friendly 
escort of King Francis, into his new capital of Milan. 
Cornelius Agrippa was a German noble, owing strict alle- 
giance to the Emperor. He could make no submission 
to King Francis. His vocation was gone, therefore, as a 
soldier; hostile to the new rule, he could no longer teach 
at Pavia; his military pension ceased, and there was an 
abrupt end of his lectures. 

1 Ep. 14, Lib. ii. pp. 732, 733, for the preceding. 


King Francis proceeded next to make his new position 
the more sure by coming to an understanding with the 
Pope. Arrangements were signed at Viterbo on the 
thirteenth of October, tending very much to the propitia- 
tion of his Holiness; before the year was out the Con- 
cordat was signed at Bologna, which obtained the friend- 
ship of the Pope for Francis at the price of rights be- 
longing to the Church in France. The more complete 
success of Francis was but the more complete ruin to 
Cornelius Agrippa. Doubtless there was a seed of war 
sown by this seizure of Milan. Germany must resist, and 
Italy become again a scene of military tumult. Here, 
however, would be occupation for the future which the 
scholar had no wish to share ; and in the present there 
was absolutely nothing to be earned or done. 

Immediately after the entry of King Francis into 
Milan, Cornelius Agrippa made several applications to a 
friend whom he had known at Pa via. The last only was 
delivered duly, and was thus attended to 1 : " I see clearly 
enough how you are perplexed by fortune ; but you must 
bear this, like a brave man, bravely. I have assured your 
safety with our prince" (Monferrat). " The rest is, that 
you must go to him, say you are leaving for Casale, and 
ask his excellency to give orders to Galeotti and Antonio 
of Altavilla, the masters of his household, that they should 
write to Casale to have you received, when you get there, 
among the pensioners. I must remain here for two days, 
detained by some business : shall find you afterwards at 
1 Ep. 47, Lib. i. pp. 714, 715. 


Pavia. Farewell. Commend me to your wife and other 
friends. Milan, Oct. 16, 1515." 

Help had from Monferrat, Cornelius, as we shall see, 
strove to repay promptly with the scholar's coin. A 
month afterwards he has been wandering up and down 
the land in search of bread that may be eaten honestly, 
has struck a little spark of hope, and hears thus from a 
friend in Pavia of his wife's brave bearing and uncon- 
quered love: "I went to your wife," the friend says 1 , 
"and told her everything according to your order; she 
replied that she was well treated by her parents and her 
brother. When I offered any help she needed from my 
service or my means, she made no other reply. I will 
visit her again, and should she want anything within my 
resources, and will tell me, I will succour her for you as if 
she were my sister. Contrive that you come back soon, very 
soon, for so asks, beseeches, and requires, your sweetest 
wife, and I not less. From Pavia, Nov. 24, 1515." 

At the same time Cornelius was writing thus to a 
" most learned Augustine 2 :" " Either for our impiety, or 
through the usual influence of the celestial bodies, or by 
the providence of God, who governs all, so great a plague 
of arms, or pestilence of soldiers, is everywhere raging, 
that one can scarcely live secure even in hollows of the 
mountains. Whither, I ask, in these suspected times, 
shall I betake myself with my wife and son and family, 
when home and household goods are gone from us at 
Pavia, and we have been despoiled of nearly all that we 

1 Ep. 48, Lib. i. p. 715. 2 Ep. 49, Lib. i. pp. 715, 716. 


possess, except a few things that were rescued. My spirit 
is sore, and rny heart is disturbed within me, because the 
enemy has persecuted my soul, and humbled my life to 
the dust. I have thought over my lost substance, the 
money spent, the stipend lost, our no income, the dearness 
of everything, and the future threatening worse evils than 
the present; and I have praised the dead rather than the 
living, nor have I found one to console me. But turning 
back upon myself I have reflected that wisdom is stronger 
than all, and have said, Lord what am I that thou shouldst 
be mindful of me, or that thou shouldst visit me with 
mercy ? And I have thought much concerning Man in 
this unwelcome idleness, and in the sadness of absence 
from my children, and have discussed with myself as I 
used with Landi of Placentia." Mindful of old talk with 
Landi, he had, in fact, written a dialogue on Man, and 
asked his friend Augustine to revise it, that it might be- 
fit for presentation to the Marquis of Monferrat. He was 
paying for the charity accepted. Augustine, in reply 1 , 
bade him not grieve at a reverse of fortune that had tried 
and purified his soul. He admired greatly the sublime 
thoughts in his dialogue, "But this," he added, "I 
would have counselled you, if you desire this work to be 
safe from the strokes of those who strive to make a stag- 
nant and immovable Theology obnoxious to every sign 
of stir or change, you should have thrown the onus of it 
on a man more learned than I am, and of weightier 
authority." The dialogue on Man was then sent by 

1 Ep. 50, Lib. i. p. 71tJ. 


Agrippa to the marquis, with a letter of dedication, 
carefully saving the credit of his orthodoxy in one special 
clause 1 . What argument was deficient in it, he said, 
would be supplied in his forthcoming notes on the Pi- 
raander. That Agrippa was at this time protected and 
helped by the marquis is sufficiently clear from the last 
words of the dedicatory letter, which entitle him " sole 
refuge of the studious." 

But Agrippa's effort to repay his patron's kindness was 
not at an end. His spirit was disturbed, his heart was 
overcharged, and he must find relief in earnest utterances. 
After the dialogue on Man, he wrote at the same period, 
and also for Monferrat 3 , a little treatise on " The Triple 
way of Knowing God." The dialogue on Man was not 
preserved, the other treatise has come down to us among 
his works, and, short as it is, contains the essence of its 
author's mind. It was a longing Godward from the 
depths of suffering, full of an earnest aspiration, with 
which, however, there had at last come to be joined a 
bitter scorn of those who, never rising heavenward, pull 
heaven down to their own sphere, and standing in the 
churches and the monasteries bar the upward way. 

" The voice of God cries out of heaven, from his sacred 
mount: Contemplate my creatures, hear the angels, listen 
to my Son, that ye may become just and pious." This, 
says Agrippa, is the triple way of knowing God 3 . He 

1 Ep. 51, Lib. i. pp. 717, 718. 2 Ep. 52, Lib. i. pp. 718, 719. 

3 De Triplici Ratlone Coynoscendi Deum. Illustrissimo Excellentissi- 
moque Sacri Roraani Imperil Principi, ac vicario, Gulielmo Palseologo, 


divides his treatise into six chapters. In the first he 
treats of the necessity of seeking to know God. In the 
second, he states this triple way of knowing him. In the 
third, fourth, and fifth, he treats successively of each of 
the three ways, and in the last he sums up formally with 
the creed of the Church, whereby to save himself from 
risk of being taken for a heretic. 

One passage will show the spirit of the chapter, which 
points out the way of learning to know God through con- 
templation of His works study of nature. " The human 
soul (as Hermes says) seizes and penetrates all things; it 
mingles by swiftness with the elements, penetrates the 
depths of the great sea ; to it all things yield light, the 
heavens do not overtop it, no dense mists of the air can 
shroud its purposes in darkness, no density of earth im- 
pede its action ; from the depths it can look up to no tall 
wave by which it shall be overwhelmed. And elsewhere, 
Cast your soul forth (he says), it will fly faster than you 
can urge it. Command it to pass into the ocean, it is 
there before your bidding, although' all the while never 
departing from its home. Bid it fly up into the heavens, 
and it needs no wings to mount, nothing shall stay its 
course; the sun's hot ray, the ample space, the giddy 
height, the influencing stars, shall not delay it; it shall 
penetrate to the last region, visit all the heavenly globes, 
and to what there is beyond them nothing hinders it from 

Marchioni Montisferrati, Domino Suo Beneficentissimo, Henricus Cornelius 
Agrippa beatitudinem perpetuam exoptat. (Opuscula : De Nob. et Prcec. 
Fam. Sex., &c. &c., ed. 1532, Mense Maio, sig. fol. E vii.-G vu.) 


passing on. Think only of the power of the soul, its 
courage and its swiftness. Therefore the man is inex- 
cusable who knows not God. More inexcusable is he 
who knowing God in any way, gives Him no worship 
and no reverence." The second way of knowing God is 
by the hearing of his angels, and the chapter which 
explains this is entirely cabalistical. It expkins with an 
undoubting faith the principle of that Cabala, which gave 
to the Jews " as it were a shadow of the true knowledge 
of God ; the true and perfect knowledge (as the whole 
school of the Cabalists bears witness) was reserved for the 
advent of the Messiah, in whom all things are perfected." 
He says, as a Cabalist, " If you apprehend no more than 
the literal sense of the Law, apart from the spirit of the 
future light, truth and perfection, nothing is more ridi- 
culous than the Law, or more like old women's fables and 
mere wanton talk. Afterwards came Christ, the sun of 
righteousness, the true light, shining truth, the true per- 
fection of the life of all men who are believers in His 
name. By Him the law was fulfilled, so that in a manner 
we need not the mists of creation, or the shadows of the 
Jewish law through which to perceive God, but have true 
knowledge of Him by the light of faith in Jesus Christ.'' 
We come thus to the final way of knowing God, that 
through the Gospel. This chapter is the longest and the 
best. It is bold, too ; all (except the last) are bold, but 
this is boldest. "If you would be borne up," writes 
Agrippa, "to the perfect doctrine of Christ, you must 
pass over the doctrine of initiation, in which, namely, are 


discussed the principles and grounds of divine wisdom, 
the repentance from dead works, baptism, the sacraments, 
imposition of hands, authority of absolution, resurrection 
of the dead, eternal judgment, and the like, which all lie 
in the bark of the tree of life, and are discussed in the 
schools by scholastic Theologians, and are brought down 
for disputation and discussion to the form of problems. 
But those things which belong to better wisdom and more 
perfect doctrine, namely, what is the gift of heaven, the 
secret manna known to him only by whom it is received, 
and what is the good word of God better than that which 
is in parables delivered to the people, and what is the 
mystery of the kingdom of heaven, all this is given to be 
known only by those studying in secret. And what are 
the powers of the future, what the origin and end of the 
soul, and the ministration of angelic spirits, what the con- 
dition and nature of that immense glory and happiness 
which we expect, which neither eye hath seen, nor ear 
heard, nor the heart of man conceived, all these things 
are contained in the marrow and core of the Gospel, and 
known only to the more perfect to whom is given the 
knowledge of powers and virtues, of miracles and pro- 
phecy, and other things upon the trace of which men 
cannot come by their own strength, but only they who 
are subject to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Where- 
fore such persons are chosen and deputed to bear rule in 
the Church, that they being illuminated by Faith, ac- 
quainted with the will of God, instructed by the Gospel, 
according to the words of Paul may be leaders of the 


blind, a light to those sitting in darkness, teachers of the 
ignorant, masters of infant minds, having the form of 
knowledge and truth in the Gospel, of which sort are in 
the Church, pontiffs, bishops, prelates, doctors, and those 
to whom is committed the cure of souls. . . . Wherefore, 
if pontiffs, prelates, doctors, have not in them the pro- 
phetic spirit of our divine wisdom, and have not proved 
by its effect displayed in them their profession of a divine 
power in the Church, certainly the spirit of such men 
has not the light of the mind, its faith in Christ is weak, 
and languishes because over the spirit the flesh dominates 
too much. For which cause all they, as barren souls, shall 
be judged and condemned as impious and unjust. He 
who desires to know God, and merit truly the name of a 
Theologian, must seek to hold communion with God, and 
meditate upon His law by day and night. But there are 
some who speak with tongues inflated with human know- 
ledge, who do not blush to belie God in their life and 
language, who by their own spirit impudently distort all 
the Scripture into their own falsity, and narrow divine 
mysteries to the method of human argument ; who having 
arranged the Divine Word, adulterated with their glosses, 
under heads of their own invention, establish their own 
monstrous fancies, and by theft and rapine dare to usurp 
the sacred name of Theology, wherein they give room only 
for contentions and brawling disputations, of which Paul 
writes to the Philippians: Some indeed preach Christ 
even of envy and strife ; and some also of good will. . . . 
Carnal and earthly is the entire doctrine of that ambitious 


race, arrogantly trusting in its own wit, thinking to know 
God by its own strength, and to find the truth in every- 
thing; these are men before whom nothing can be said 
upon which they are not ready to make choice dispute, it 
matters not whether on one side or another, and put for- 
ward a provable opinion ; an astute race rich in the lite- 
rature of other people, and at the same time relying 
insolently on a certain artificial dialectic; though they 
of themselves know nothing whatever, they wish to be 
thought learned, therefore they dispute openly in the 
schools, strong over little shifts with sophisms, calling and 
thinking themselves wise. Miserably deceived! That 
which they take to be their help is their impediment. . . . 
True wisdom does not consist in clamorous disputes, but is 
hidden in silence and religion through faith in our Lord 
Jesus Christ, whereof the fruit is life eternal. Urban, the 
Pope, writing to Charles, says : Not by dialectics has it 
pleased God that His people should be saved; the king- 
dom of heaven is with simplicity of faith, not wordy con- 
tention. The inventor of this pestilent art is the devil; 
he was the first cunning, pernicious sophist, who pro- 
posed his little questions, invented disputations, and, as it 
were, founded a school. Not content with having lost 
himself, he discovered an art wherein others might be 
lost, to the increase and propagation of hurt like his own. 
Therefore, not suffering man to abide in simple faith, he 
chose to propose a question upon the divine commands, 
judging this to be the cleverest contrivance for the over- 
throw of man. So he first approached Eve like a sophist, 


and invited her to a contest of argument by asking, 
Why hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of 
the garden ? .... In imitation of that old sophist, the 
serpent, some of the more recent Theosophists arose, the 
chiefs, authors, and propagators of so much that is in- 
famous in this our age, whom innumerable other men of 
the same sort daily follow to their misery. Hence has 
arisen that horrid and entangled wood, that dark forest 
of disputation, in which with sordid, weary labour, damn- 
able work is done for little fruit ; in which nothing is 
done by faith, hope, charity, in imitation of Christ, 
neither by prayers and fastings, watching, seeking, 
knocking that the gate of the armoury of divine know- 
ledge may be opened, but like the Titans these men 
warring against Heaven think that by the intricate 
machines of sophistry the gate of sacred letters may 
be burst for them." Cornelius goes on to reprove, with 
equal emphasis, the habit of citing endless authorities, 
from authors alike ancient and modern, for the purpose 
of parade, by men whose only wit it is to produce 
the wit of others. " Not so," he says, " did those early 
theologians, men solid in wisdom, venerable in autho- 
rity, holy in their lives, in whose writings citations are 
simple and infrequent, occurring only when they are 
required, and then chiefly from the Old Testament, the 
Gospels, the apostles, or remote antiquity; they were not 
boastful, though truly having trust in divine grace, con- 
scious of their own wisdom, and the best of teachers, who 
feared no man's criticism. They spoke truth, not flinch- 


ing before the face of man, and have bestowed upon us 
largess from their own resources, imitating Christ, who 
like a good master of the house produces what is good 
and needful out of his own treasury, in all things ripening 
for us the fruits of true religion and a saving faith." 
Returning then to his deprecation of the new form of 
Theology, he bewails the loss of a pristine simplicity. 
" Nobody," he says, " with pious mind asks knowledge of 
God ; we are all professors of ignorance ; we have a new 
theology, new doctors, new doctrine, nothing ancient, 
nothing holy, nothing truly religious, and, what is worse, 
if there be any who devote themselves to this pristine 
theology and religion, they are called mad, ignorant, 
irreligious, sometimes even heretics, and (as Hermes says) 
held to be hateful ; there is even peril of their lives 
decreed against them, they are marked with contumely, 
often put to death." 

Bold speaking to the doctors of the Church, and yet 
Cornelius takes heed never to break loose from their 
company. The last chapter of the treatise declares God 
to be known according to the most ecclesiastical of the 
creeds used by the orthodox, and declares formally by 
copious citation that in this creed believes Cornelius 
Agrippa. His position with regard to the orthodox 
Church, resembles that taken by Dean Colet in London ; 
and, indeed, so great is in many respects the resemblance 
between some of the language of this tract and the preach- 
ing of Colet, that when we add a consideration of the fact 
that up to this time Cornelius had of late been writing 


commentaries on St. Paul ; and that in this work, as in 
the appeal to Catilinet, written in London, St. Paul is 
cited with unusual frequency and earnestness, we may 
fairly conclude that John Colet's influence was great over 
Agrippa's mind, and the impression made on the young 
scholar by residence within the Stepney household still 
abides 1 . The complaints of heresy made against Colet 
may have been in his mind when speaking of the shame 
and peril to which they were exposed who sought the 
restoration of a pristine theology. 

Of this dissertation, written at Casale for the Marquis 
of Monferrat, copies went to other . learned friends, and 
there were not wanting influential persons ready to ad- 
mire the work and honour the fine spirit of the man who 
could apply himself to such writing for solace in the day 
of trial. In the mean time, Cornelius was seeking a way 
out of want, and the best hope of finding it depended on 
the friendship of Monferrat. The marquis had great in- 
fluence ; his good will was sincere ; he was a patron worthy 
of respect. There was just reason for hope, then, that by 
his assistance some new means of subsistence might be 
found for a man well born and nobly bred, who, having 
obtained his knighthood in the field and earned his doc- 
torate in every faculty, was now, at the age of thirty, 
ruined by the chance of war. 

1 Compare p. 236. 



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